Freedom of Religion in Malaysia - Status of Religious Freedom

Status of Religious Freedom

Government in general supports Islamic religious establishment and it is the official policy to "infuse Islamic values" into the administration of the country.

However, Sunday which is the Christian traditional holiday is the official weekend holiday in the Federal Territories and ten out of thirteen states, unlike practices in Middle Eastern Muslim countries. The exception are the states of Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu, where the weekend falls on Friday and Saturday. Most Muslims in Malaysia accept this, although some have expressed disquiet since the most holy period in a Muslim's week is between Thursday evening and Friday afternoon, when the congregational Jumaat prayer is held. The practice of having Sunday as the weekend holiday is a departure from traditional Islamic practices, dating to British colonial days when the British started bringing in non-Muslim immigrants into the country.

In May 2001, the government decided not to approve the Falun Gong Preparatory Committee’s application to register as a legal organization. This action is believed to be more related to the government's wish to improve relations with China rather than an attempt to undermine the Falun Gong in favour of Islam. The government has not prevented Falun Gong members from carrying out their activities in public.

For Muslim children, religious education according to a government-approved curriculum is compulsory in public schools. There are no restrictions on homeschooling, although primary school is compulsory. However, private schools and colleges do have some legal requirements.

Several religious holidays are recognized as official holidays, including Hari Raya Puasa (Muslim), Hari Raya Haji (Muslim), the Prophet's birthday (Muslim), Wesak Day (Buddhist), Deepavali (Hindu), Thaipusam (Hindu), Christmas (Christian), and, in Sabah and Sarawak, Good Friday (Christian).

Read more about this topic:  Freedom Of Religion In Malaysia

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