Posted on 10/12/2013 - 20:00
COMMENT: With a sluggish global economy weighed down by a protracted Greece-led European financial crisis, Malaysia’s tourism was jolted by another bolt of bad news.
Malaysia was listed by a global study as among countries faring worst in faith-based discrimination.
Should Malaysians be surprised? The recent 67th Umno general assembly had given Malaysians and the world an overdose of religious and racial slurs and utterances to endorse the study.
According to a Reuters report, in 13 countries around the world, all of them Muslim, people who openly espouse atheism or reject the official state religion of Islam face execution under the law, according to a detailed study by The Freethought Report 2013 issued on Dec 10.
And beyond the Islamic nations, even some of the West’s apparently most democratic governments at best discriminate against citizens who have no belief in a god and at worst can jail them for offences dubbed blasphemy, it said.
The Freethought Report 2013, was issued by the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), a global body uniting atheists, agnostics and other religious sceptics, to mark United Nations’ Human Rights Day on Dec 10.
“This report shows that the overwhelming majority of countries fail to respect the rights of atheists and freethinkers although they have signed UN agreements to treat all citizens equally," said IHEU president Sonja Eggerickx.
The study covered all 192 member states in the world body and involved lawyers and human rights experts looking at statute books, court records and media accounts to establish the global situation.
A first survey of 60 countries last year showed just seven where death, often by public beheading, is the punishment for either blasphemy or apostasy -- renouncing belief or switching to another religion -- which is also protected under UN accords.
But this year’s more comprehensive study showed six more, bringing the full list to Afghanistan, Iran, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
In others, like India in a recent case involving a leading critic of religion, humanists say police are often reluctant or unwilling to investigate murders of atheists carried out by religious fundamentalists.
Across the world, the report said, "there are laws that deny atheists' right to exist, revoke their citizenship, restrict their right to marry, obstruct their access to public education, prevent them working for the state..."
The IHEU, which has member bodies in some 50 countries and supporters in many more where such organisations are banned, said there was systematic or severe discrimination against atheists across the 27-nation European Union.
With the Malaysian government, which is struggling to reduce mounting federal debts, the listing will surely negatively impact the country’s tourism promotions to attract foreigners.
For the world to see Malaysia in the same league as Afghanistan is surely not pleasant to tourists.
~ The Ant Daily