A minister within the Prime Minister’s Department in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia has called for atheists to be “hunted down.”
A photo of a gathering of the Kuala Lumpur chapter of Atheist Republic has caused Islamists to react harshly. Violent and death threats were quick to be issued from various Muslims who were outraged by the meeting of atheists, especially since many of them are likely apostates who have left Islam.
Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim, a minister within the Prime Minister’s Department, said, “The (Federal Constitution) does not mention atheists. It goes against the Constitution and human rights.” He called on the public to “help to identify these groups” and suggested that the government “hunt them down vehemently.”
While Malaysia’s government is essentially a modified lift from the British government system, it is a federal parliamentary elective monarchy, the official religion of the country is Islam. Muslims make up the majority of its people and in recent years there have been certain political parties, notably the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, which have been pushing for more legislation based on hudud, or an Islamic criminal law system.
The Deputy Minister responsible for Islamic affairs, Datuk Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki, said that the government would investigate the local atheist group, utilizing assistance from the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission. He Aysraf Wajdi told reporters that, “If it is proven that there are Muslims involved in atheist activities that could affect their faith, the state Islamic religious departments or Jawi could take action. I have asked for the Jawi to look into this grave allegation.”
Atheist Republic's response to the situation has been to call out the Malaysian government and warn that any action taken against atheists and ex-Muslim apostates will ruin their image as a moderate Muslim-majority country.
This is what real religious persecution looks like. I hope that these atheists and apostates in Malaysia are able to remain safe from both the government and those religious fundamentalists who will take matters into their own hands. In addition to providing resources for atheists and apostates to gather in communities all over the world, Atheist Republic also helps non-believers seeking asylum from the persecution they face in certain areas. You can support them here.