Malaysia has been placed on a watch list by an advisory body of the United States government over concerns about its limitation on freedom of religion, putting it on a par with countries like Afghanistan, Cuba, Indonesia, Laos, Russia and Turkey.
In its 2014 annual report, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) placed Malaysia on Tier 2, one level down from Tier 1 (countries of particular concern) which lists countries like Myanmar, China, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Sudan, among others.
“USCIRF found that the intertwining of religion, ethnicity, and politics in Malaysia complicate religious freedom protections for religious minorities and non-Sunni Muslims,” the commission said in the report.
USCIRF is an independent US government advisory body that monitors religious freedom worldwide and makes policy recommendations to the American president, the secretary of state and Congress.
The commission noted that it had not reported on Malaysia since 2007.
“Renewed reporting stems from concerns about inadequate legal protections for religious minorities and ethnic Malays who wish to change their religion, bans on certain publications and groups considered religiously deviant, including Shia, and expanded efforts to arrest and harass members of such groups in the past two years,” the report said.
In the report, USCIRF listed several conditions of freedom of religion that have marred Malaysia’s image as a “moderate nation” and a “multi-faith model”, including the ban on the use of the word Allah by non-Muslims and official promotion of religious hatred.
source: MSN News