Suhakam urges govt to strengthen enjoyment of fundamental human right to freedom of religion

KUALA LUMPUR: The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) has called on the government to take immediate steps to strengthen the enjoyment of fundamental human right to freedom of religion. This is in light of the recent detainment of suspected Syiah followers in Kota Baru on Aug 30, during an operation conducted by the Kelantan Islamic Affairs and Religious Department (JAHEAIK). The commission also said that it was ready to play a facilitative role and hoped the government would take fair and constructive steps towards providing equal rights for all religious groups in Malaysia. Its chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail said the commission was deeply concerned with the most recent crackdown of the Syiah followers, for practising their religion despite a right guaranteed in the Federal Constitution. “The arrest, including children, indicates severe intolerance for minority faiths, including Muslims, and can be construed as a move towards extremism. “As a result, a population of Malaysians has been deprived of their basic constitutional right to freedom of religion,” he said in a statement. Razali said the commission would not want to see a situation where religious intolerance, discrimination, social hostilities and incitement to violence based on religion or belief reach new depth in our new Malaysia and believed sensitivity of the subject matter could no longer be a barrier to a firm resolution. “The glaring inequality facing religious minorities has not changed since Pakatan Harapan coming into power, despite the government’s promise to end discrimination in a moderate, progressive and tolerant Malaysia. “The government must immediately take steps towards guaranteeing legal protections and rights for all religious minorities and to reinforce peaceful and sustainable coexistence among Malaysians. “Given the democratic transition in Malaysia, many countries will follow with great interest the developments in Malaysia at the upcoming Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and we can expect the situation of minorities will be a focus for Malaysia.” He said the commission also believed that the Council of Rulers had the responsibility towards sectors of Malaysian population victimised on the basis of their religious beliefs. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd