Malaysia’s ‘atheist hunt’ an election carrot for Muslim majority

Malaysia’s ‘atheist hunt’ an election carrot for Muslim majority, by Amanda Hodge.

The Malaysian government has vowed to “hunt down” atheists and warned anyone caught propagating godlessness could face prosecution, after a photograph of an atheist club meeting in Kuala Lumpur went viral.

Members of the Kuala Lumpur chapter of Canada-based Atheist Republic have gone into hiding in recent days after senior government ministers called for an investigation into whether any Muslims were involved, and one prominent cleric warned that the punishment for apostasy under the Islamic Hudud penal code — although not in Malaysia — was death. …

In recent weeks the government has banned several academic books discussing moderate Islam, set up a cabinet committee to increase the power of sharia courts and withdrawn a clause in proposed legislation that would have prevented a child’s conversion to Islam without the consent of both parents.

Last month, the state government of Kelantan moved to make caning a public spectacle for ­sharia-law infringements.

Some observers suggest the recent dominance of Islamic dogma in Malaysian public discourse is part of a government strategy to cement the support of the country’s majority Malay Muslims — its core constituency — ahead of imminent general elections, as well as to divert attention from the continuing scandal related to more than $US4.5 billion ($5.7bn) in losses by state investment fund 1MDB.

No backing out once your country goes Muslim.

hat-tip Stephen Neil