05/05/2020 Malaysia (International Christian Concern) – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), in its 2020 annual report for severe violations to the International Religious Freedoms Act (IRFA), added Malaysia and Indonesia, two Muslim-majority countries on its Special Watch List.
The two Southeast Asian countries were among 15 countries that it put on that list. The other 13 countries are Cuba, Nicaragua, Sudan, and Uzbekistan – already featured on the State Department’s Special Watch List last year – followed by Afghanistan, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, the Central African Republic, Egypt, Iraq, Kazakhstan, and Turkey.
The report states that Malaysia’s minority religious groups are facing worsening conditions. Christians are threatened constantly and reported that they feel increasing strain and social hostility. Churches cannot be built taller than a mosque, nor can Hindu or Buddhist temples. Christian pastors and social activists have been reported missing.
In Indonesia, a Catholic woman was charged with blasphemy for bringing a dog into a mosque. Religious tolerance for any deviance from Islam is prohibited and discriminated against. Religious discrimination against Christians is manifested by force, hate speech, and rejection of work or building permits for churches.
With Malaysia and Indonesia being placed on the Special Watch List, they are now seen as one of the most hostile countries towards Christians, following Tier 1 countries like China, Vietnam, and North Korea.
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