Religious, ethnic hatred top global threat for Malaysians, poll finds

by Boo Su-Lyn
Malay Mail Online
October 17, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 17 ― Nearly one-third of Malaysians see religious and ethnic hatred as posing the greatest danger to the world, according to the latest survey finding by Pew Research Center, a concern shared by Indonesia amid simmering religious tensions in both countries and the rise of violent militant Islamist groups.

The Washington-based research group’s Greatest Dangers in the World survey released yesterday showed 32 per cent of Malaysians who cited religious and ethnic hatred as the biggest global threat today.

In contrast, 22 per cent Malaysians surveyed pointed to nuclear weapons, 16 per cent said environmental damage, 13 per cent cited increasing income inequality and 12 per cent highlighted AIDS and other diseases as major global threats.

In neighbouring Indonesia, home to the world’s biggest Muslim population, 26 per cent of its people polled also cited religious and ethnic divisions as the main threat to the world compared to other Southeast Asian nations like Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines which are more concerned with environmental issues.

Concerns about religious and ethnic hatred ranked the highest in Malaysia among Asian countries, followed by Bangladesh (30 per cent), Indonesia (26 per cent) and India (25 per cent).

The poll revealed that in Malaysia, Muslims (35 per cent) are more concerned than Buddhists (22 per cent) about religious and ethnic hatred.

The global survey of 44 countries among 48,643 respondents was conducted from March 17 to June 5, after the Court of Appeal ruled last October in favour of a government ban on a Catholic Church newspaper from using the word “Allah” to refer to God.

But Malaysian Christians’ battle for their right to use the Arabic word “Allah” for God is also not over as a Sabah evangelical church, the Sidang Injil Borneo’s (SIB) suit against the government over the seizure of its Christian educational books, is set for a retrial at the High Court.

Shortly before the survey was conducted, Muslim groups here protested in February against a satirical Chinese New Year video by DAP’s Seputeh MP Teresa Kok, which they alleged to be anti-Islam and anti-Malay.

In response to Kok’s video, the Muslim groups held up a banner warning of the “nightmares” of the bloody race riots on May 13, 1969 ― which resulted in the death of hundreds of Malaysians ― and slaughtered live chickens to demonstrate their displeasure during their protest.

In May, a seminar hosted by Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) saw several Muslim speakers, including from Indonesia, who branded Christian gospels as fake and denied the divinity of Jesus Christ ― drawing uproar from local Christian groups who denounced their allegations as as hate speech.

The period when the survey was conducted also follows a government clampdown on the minority Shiah Muslims in Sunni-controlled Malaysia, similar to an anti-Shiah movement launched by hardline Islamist groups in Indonesia.

At that time, Malaysian police had also arrested several people for militant activities that are believed to be related to the terror group Islamic State (IS).

Malaysia and Indonesia both subscribe to the Sunni school of Islam and Muslim religious officials have repeatedly said they do not tolerate any other denomination, viewing the others, including Shiah school as deviant teachings.

Racial and religious tension have continued to simmer in Malaysia the past few months, with at least three people being charged with sedition for “insulting” Islam or the royalty.

  1. #1 by boh-liao on Saturday, 18 October 2014 - 10:41 am

    “posing the greatest danger to the world”
    Got meh?
    U no know meh, Malaysia just got elected in2 d UN Security Council 2 a two-year period
    D world has much faith on M’sia n loves M’sia, LOL

  2. #2 by winstony on Sunday, 19 October 2014 - 10:26 pm

    Well, well, well.
    Isn’t it very strange that so many people in this country and the world over are all tied up with non issues like race and religion.
    Even those who are supposed to know better, don’t.
    As far as race is concerned, anybody can be born into any race!
    You can’t choose your parents, can you?
    So, you cannot chose your race!!
    It’s that simple!
    Now, religion.
    Does it matters in any way what religion a person professes?
    That’s a private matter between him and his God!
    Who the hell is anyone to comment on it?
    Let alone stir up trouble because of that?
    The earlier the saner and more logical political leaders in this country go about waking up Malaysians to all this nonsense about race and religion being an issue, the better.
    So, start cracking!!!

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