Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Christmas in Malaysia

It seems that Christmas is celebrated in Malaysia, as one would expect from a country with a significant Christian population. In a story by Ioannis Gatsiounis, in the Asia Times, it is noted that there are a few restrictions on how it is celebrated.( )
In multi-ethnic Malaysia, where Muslims make up a slim majority and control
the government but where there are also sizeable Christian, Hindu and Buddhist
minorities, news that the government would ban any reference to Jesus in hymns
and Christian symbols like the nativity scene from its Christmas Day open house,
was destined to ruffle some feathers.

According to reports, the request to ban the mention of Jesus at the public Christmas celebration at Petaling Jaya on December 25 - held in the presence of King Syed Sirajuddin and Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi - was made in order to "protect Muslim sensibilities".

At first the state-neutered press ignored the story; it generally considers race and religion too sensitive to discuss. But with a swelling number of postings to websites, blogs and e-mail chat groups questioning the logic of the decision - and by way, the substance of Malaysia's brand of "tolerance and diversity" - it
wasn't long before the mainstream media weighed in.

I don't think Jerry Seinfeld's Festivus would get very far in Malaysia. It would be banned as soon as the "airing of the grievances" got underway.

Now this story is interesting for a number of reasons. It denotes the level of tolerance of Muslim societies to the actual practice of Christianity. It is also noteworthy for the example it gives of the power of the Internet and of how blogs and chat rooms can be instruments of freedom for the oppressed. The truth shall set us free, my friends.


At 4:58 am, December 23, 2004 , Blogger MaoBi said...

The minister has already come out to say that there is no such ban. Atimes has an axe to grind and the government has not always behaved as we would like.

Please let's give the minister the benefit of doubt. It is Christmas after all and we are speaking of preserving the Christmas spirit.

At 6:42 am, December 23, 2004 , Blogger Red Hot Sexy Papa said...

That was plain rubbish LOL. No such thing.


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