Malaysians Warned Not to Question Islam
By Associated Press Writer
Sun, Oct. 19 2008 04:01 AM EDT
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – An influential council of Malaysia's state rulers has warned people not to question the supremacy of Islam or the special privileges enjoyed by the country's ethnic Malay majority.
Racial and religious tensions have increased in the past year as minorities have become more vocal in their complaints about an affirmative action program that they say unfairly favors Malays. They also complain that their religious rights are being ignored.
In an unprecedented comment on current affairs, the sultans of nine states did not directly accuse the Chinese and Indian minorities of stoking anti-Malay feelings, but said recent statements and forums "held by certain quarters" had "caused provocation and uneasiness among the people."
Questioning the special position of Malays "can lead to disunity and racial strife that can undermine the peace and harmony," the state rulers said in a statement.
The warning underscores the social tensions in Malaysia, where Muslim Malays are about 60 percent of the nation's 27 million people. Chinese and Indians, who are mostly non-Muslims, comprise a third of the population and friction among the three ethnic groups is always below the surface.