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The country of Malaysia consists of four main ethnic groups: Malay, Chinese, Indians and tribal peoples. On September 19, a superior court upheld an earlier judgment that the Malay people cannot renounce Islam. According to the Malaysian constitution, "A Malay citizen is a person who professes Islam." For the approximately 15,000 Malay converts to Christianity, this means that they retain the official status of a Muslim, regardless of their religious beliefs.

In 1998, Azalina Jailani converted to Christianity and changed her name to Lina Joy. She went to court to force the National Registration Department to change her religious status from Islam to Christian so that she could be married in a civil ceremony to her Christian husband. Her request was rejected when the judge ruled, "As a Malay, the plaintiff exists under the tenets of Islam until her death." (click here for details). Two of the three judges on the panel ruled that she could only change her status with the permission of Muslim religious authorities. The third judge, a Hindu, held that she had the right to renounce Islam without permission, since the Malaysian constitution guarantees the freedom of religion.

Pray for Lina and the other Malay Christians living in a state of constitutional limbo. Pray for them as they experience social rejection and legal discrimination. As one Christian woman told AsiaNews on September 21, "We are discriminated and virtually live underground lives. Our parents, siblings and friends all shun us like lepers."

For more information on persecution of Christians in Malaysia, click here.

Country Information

31,809,660 (July 2018 est.)

Ethnicity (%)
Bumiputera (61.7 - Malays and indigenous peoples), Chinese (20.8), Indigenous (11.8), Indian (6.2), others (0.9), non-citizens (10.4)

Religion (%)
Muslim (61.3), Buddhist (19.8), Christian (9.2), Hindu (6.3), Confucianism, Taoism, other traditional Chinese religions (1.3), Other (0.4), Non-religious (0.8),

King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah

Government type
Federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy

Legal system
Mixed legal system of English common law, Islamic law, and customary law; judicial review of legislative acts in the Federal Court at request of supreme head of the federation

Source: CIA World Factbook

Pray for Malaysia

Pray that Christians will stand firm in their faith, despite opposition

Pray that Malaysian Christians will be free to practice their faith in Jesus Christ.

Pray that all Christians in Malaysia will be able to freely access the Bible.


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