Malaysia Church Raid Stokes Religious Tensions
A raid by state Islamic enforcers on a church function in predominantly Muslim Malaysia has stirred religious tensions and revived fears of growing Islamisation. During a dinner at a Methodist church hall outside the Kuala Lumpur on August 3, officers arrived saying they had information that a group of Muslims were being converted, which is prohibited. The incident, though described as tame, has nevertheless unnerved some. The Damansara Utama Methodist Church denied the event was held to convert Muslims, but Islamic officials and pro-government media pounced on the case to allege a widespread Christian proselytising campaign. Malaysia likes to portray itself as a modern, ethnically harmonious Muslim state. "I am very unhappy with the way Christians are being portrayed and why authorities are treating the community so suspiciously," Maria Varghese, 37, a Kuala Lumpur schoolteacher and ethnic Indian Christian, told AFP. "We are not trying to convert anyone. We have friends of all races and religions and have lived happily for centuries. I don't understand why they are attacking us."