KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 25 — In a sign of Malaysia’s deepening interfaith conflict, a Sabah Christian group demanded today Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak act against extremism amid reports of Borneo natives coerced into embracing Islam.
The Perpaduan Anak Negeri (PAN) Sabah said that Bumiputera Christians in the East Malaysian state have been oppressed for the past 50 years by Muslim extremists from the peninsula who sought to attack their faith and ethnicity.
“Some call this a form of genocide,” PAN said in a statement.
“We have been deceived, intimidated and cheated long enough. PM Datuk Seri Najib must lead the way to assure us that he is not only a PM for the Malays, but for all Malaysians.
“All must be treated fairly and have the freedom to embrace a faith of their choice,” it added.
PAN further noted that the ongoing tussle to use the word “Allah” is not new as the Malay-language bible, better known locally as the Al-Kitab, was banned 33 years ago, and said that the row over the Arabic word for God was merely a long-term strategy to ensure the domination of Islam.
A group of 27 villagers from the remote Pitas district deep in Sabah’s northern region were recently reported to have claimed they were duped into embracing Islam for RM100, according to The Daily Express.
The police, however, have passed the case to the Sabah State Islamic Affairs Department (JHEIANS).
“According to a report in Utusan Malaysia on 25 Feb 2009, the Yang di-Pertua Negeri Sabah, Tun Ahmadshah Abdullah revealed that from 1970, MUIS, the Sabah Islamic Council, has registered 117,579 new converts.
“History also tells us that conversions were through threats, intimidation, deception as well as inducements,” said PAN.
PAN said that in 1979 under the then Berjaya government, some Murut Christians were promised land for converting to Islam, but upon conversion, the land was sold to others instead who later sued them for illegal occupation.
The Christian group also said that the National Registration Department (JPN) reclassifies Christians with “bin” or “binti” in their names as Muslims in their identity card and that the Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB) church has identified 162 such cases.
“JPN will only correct such entries if the Christians so affected can prove to the Syariah High Court that they are not Muslims in the first place!” said PAN.
In the so-called Project IC, which was investigated by a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) probing Sabah’s massive illegal immigrant problem, Muslim foreigners were purportedly given citizenship in exchange for their votes in order to keep the ruling government in power.
“In another case, the Sabah Council of Churches as well as the Roman Catholic Church of Sabah had complained officially to the Education Ministry last year of a covert ploy to convert under-aged Christian students at the residential Labuan Matriculation College to Islam,” said PAN.
“These are only some of the instances of extreme political Islam through forced conversions... We have submitted the facts but all we get is silence from PM Datuk Seri Najib Razak,” it added.