Malaysians should respect other people's religions to ensure their own religion is respected, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was reported proclaiming by news source Bernama on Sunday. He said festivals celebrated together, such as Christmas, were a manifestation that despite different religious beliefs, Malaysians could respect the religions of others.
"The harmony we preserved despite the different religions, races, cultures, languages and backgrounds as Malaysians will strengthen our solidarity forever," he said when opening the 2015 Malaysia Christmas Open House at Proclamation of Independence Memorial Square in Bandar Hilir Sunday night.
Ahmad Zahid said differences among Malaysians would not cause division, and that it is a symbol of the uniqueness of the people in the country. "Stay united and live harmoniously despite the differences," he encouraged.
According to Bernama, he said the incident involving a small group who felt it was victimized by traders should not be turned into a problem involving race. "Such misunderstandings are small problems which would be dealt with accordingly, by the police.
"Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, as the prime minister, was always committed to seeing the country peaceful and prosperous, which were the foundations established by the national leadership before and after independence."
Ahmad Zahid said the aspirations of early country leaders were for Malaysians to defend togetherness, harmony and prosperity, cites the New Straits Times.
"The differences in religions to us is a uniqueness for followers of all religions as it was mentioned in the Al-Quran as 'You are with your religion, I am with my religion,'" he said.
Ahmad Zahid has been deputy prime minister of Malaysia since 2015 in the Barisan Nasional coalition government of Prime Minister Najib Razak. He also has been a minister of Home Affairs since 2013, and he previously served as Minister of Defense from 2009 to 2013. According to online sources, he is the member of the Parliament of Malaysia for the Bagan Datoh constituency in Perak and a member of the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) political party.