Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Malaysian state sued for demolishing church

January 14, 2008
Malaysian State Sued For Demolishing Church
A group of indigenous Malaysians has launched a suit against the country's only Muslim-ruled state for allegedly tearing down a church built on their property, a church leader said on Monday.

The church in northeast Kelantan was demolished by district officers in June last year, shortly after construction of the wood and brick building was completed.

Moses Soo, who was to have been the church pastor, said the case will be heard on Tuesday in the high court of state capital Kota Bahru.

"We are suing the state government and the Gua Musang municipality for tearing down the church. They have no right to tear down the church on orang asli land," Soo said.

The land belongs to the orang asli -- original inhabitants of Malaysia -- under traditional title, he added.

"The village headman sacrificed his orchard for the church," Soo said, adding that they are seeking compensation from the state government to rebuild.

The National Evangelical Christian Fellowship of Malaysia has said it was told the church was torn down because it was built without permission.

Kelantan is ruled by the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), the country's main Islamic opposition party.

Malaysian commentators have sounded alarm over the growing "Islamisation" of the country and the increasing polarisation of the three main ethnic communities, who mix much less than in the past.

Religion and language are sensitive issues in multiracial Malaysia -- dominated by Muslim Malays living alongside minority ethnic Chinese and Indian communities -- which experienced deadly race riots in 1969. (DNA)

***** What unlucky timing. There goes PAS' chance of picking up some unhappy non-Malay votes.


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