Malaysian Muslims Denounce Attempts of Christian Conversion

Posted October 22nd, 2011 at 10:25 am (UTC-5)
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Several thousand Malaysian Muslims gathered in Kuala Lumpur Saturday to protest alleged proselytizing by Christians, highlighting a growing rift between religious groups in the Muslim-majority nation.

The peaceful rally, led by about two dozen non-governmental groups, comes amid accusations of Christian conversions among Muslims and a recent raid on a Methodist church attended by 12 Muslims.

Muslims comprise 60 percent of the country's 28 million people, with the rest made up of Christians, Buddhists and Hindus. Ethnic Malays are Muslim by birth and constitutionally forbidden to change their religion. Non-Muslims are guaranteed freedom of religion.

The country has largely avoided religious conflict in recent decades, but tensions between Muslims and Christians began growing in 2009 when a court ruled that Roman Catholics could use the word “Allah” to refer to God in Malay-language bibles. Many Muslims in Malaysia believe the word is exclusive to their religion. The ruling triggered attacks on Christian places of worship.