DPM : "Islam is the official religion and we are an Islamic state, But as an Islamic state, it does not mean that we don't respect the non-Muslims. The Muslims and the non-Muslims have their own rights,"
(AP News) KUALA LUMPUR : Malaysia is an Islamic state and not a secular one, the country's deputy prime minister said Tuesday, while carefully assuring members of minority faiths that their rights will be protected.
Najib Razak said mainly-Muslim Malaysia has never been a secular nation as the government has always been driven by the fundamentals of Islam, according to state Bernama news agency.
"Islam is the official religion and we are an Islamic state," Najib told reporters after he opened an international conference on the role of Islamic states.
"But as an Islamic state, it does not mean that we don't respect the non-Muslims. The Muslims and the non-Muslims have their own rights," he said.
Najib's comments come at a time of heightened religious tension in moderate Malaysia, where ethnic Chinese and Indians fear their rights have become endangered, following a growing sense of Islamisation in the country.
More than 60 percent of Malaysia's 27 million people are Muslim Malays and Islam is the official religion under the country's constitution.
But while the constitution defines the ethnic majority Malays as Muslims it also guarantees freedom of religion.
Minority Chinese and Indians are mostly Buddhists, Hindus or Christians.
"We have never been secular because being secular by Western definition means separation of the Islamic principles in the way we govern a country," he said.
Lawyers and rights groups have consistently argued that Malaysia is largely a secular state and should be ruled by the constitution.
However, in a string of legal cases involving Muslims and non-Muslim spouses who have been forced apart by Islamic religious officials, sharia court judgements based on Islamic jurisdiction have always been upheld.
In a recent landmark decision, the nation's top secular court rejected a woman's bid for legal recognition as a Christian after she renounced Islam. - AFP/ch
Link Malaysiakini : This is an Islamic state: Najib
tags : najib razak malaysia islamic state secular