Vatican and Malaysia Establish Diplomatic Ties

Posted July 18th, 2011 at 10:20 am (UTC-5)
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The Vatican and the predominately Muslim nation of Malaysia have established diplomatic relations.

The Vatican made the announcement Monday after Pope Benedict met with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak south of Rome.

Religious tensions have been on the rise in Malaysia in recent years, with religious minority groups complaining of discrimination by the country's Muslim majority.

A Roman Catholic newspaper in Malaysia was involved in a legal dispute against a government ban on non-Muslims using the world “Allah” to describe God. A court granted the right of non-Muslims to use the word in 2009, but anger among some Muslims sparked a series of attacks against churches.

Christians make up more than nine percent of Malaysia's 28 million people. Other major minority religions in Malaysia include Buddhism and Hinduism.

Malaysia was one of only a handful of countries in the world that did not have formal diplomatic ties with the Vatican.