Two Protestant Christians have been arrested in Malaysia’s new administrative capital, Putrajaya, on charges proselytising. Ricky Ruperd and Zachry Harris were passing out pamphlets with religious content to Muslims. Just a few days before the arrests, a controversy incident had broken out due to the distribution of Bibles in local languages in Malaysia.
Under the Malaysian law, it is illegal to convert a Muslim. According to a spokesman for the local police, they have received a court order to be held for 14 days for breaking the law.
At present, two legal systems co-exist in Malaysia. One is a religious system that applies only to Muslims. The other is a civil one which pertains to the federal constitution.
Due to religious issues on the legality of Bibles published in two local languages, the government was split recently. The Bibles, published in Bahasa Malaysia and in Bahasa Indonesia, were illegal for one minister, and legal for others.
Recently, Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi said the Bibles published in Malay languages will not be banned as long as they carried the words "Not for Muslims." In a meeting with Former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan, former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, reassured that there was no danger that Islamic fundamentalism might exist in Malaysia.
Referring to the fact that Muslims are in power in Kelanton, a north-eastern state of the Malaysian federation, Mahathir said, "There is a concern of a lot of people outside [the country], especially in European countries."
"There is fear that Malaysia is on the verge of becoming an extremist Islamic state and that Islamists are going to overcome the rest of the population. But I don’t think so. Malay Muslims are very rational," he said.