In the News: In Malaysia, Atheism is “Unconstitutional”?

Atheism is ‘unconstitutional’, says Malaysian deputy minister: Report, Channel NewsAsia, 2017-11-23.

KUALA LUMPUR: Atheism is “unconstitutional” and should not be allowed in Malaysia, said Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki […] atheism “contradicts” both the Malaysian Federal Constitution and the Rukunegara (Malaysia’s National Principles). He cited the first principle in the Rukunegara, which is “Belief in God” and Article 11 in the Federal Constitution. “We need to understand, that in the Malaysian context, our Federal Constitution states that freedom of religion is not freedom from religion,” he said as quoted by the Star.


“The Government can draw up any legal provisions necessary to prevent such beliefs and doctrines, which is deemed to be a threat to the sanctity of Islam,” said Dr Asyraf, who is also deputy minister in charge of religious affairs. He added that atheism “goes against the laws of public order and morality”. “For instance, anyone who tries to spread ideologies and doctrines that promote atheism and similar beliefs, which tarnish the sanctity of other religions, can be charged under the Sedition Act,” he said.

Dr Asyraf is not the first politician to speak out against atheism in Malaysia. In August, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Shahidan Kassim said the government should track down atheists, sparking fear among some Malay atheists.

The deputy minister’s nonsensical declaration is an expression of classic atheophobia. Fortunately, not all Malaysians agree:

MP: Does freedom of speech also mean you must speak?, MalayMail Online, 2017-11-26.

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 26 ― A deputy minister’s claim that freedom of religion did not equate to freedom from religion was “utter rubbish”, said a federal legislator when noting that the same liberty to speech did not compel a citizen to exercise the right.

Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua also questioned how Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki arrived at his controversial conclusion that atheism was illegal in Malaysia, which the latter made this week in Parliament.


He also challenged the deputy minister’s view that atheism was the equivalent of propagating non-Islamic beliefs to Muslims, calling it illogical to compare an absence of faith to active proselytisation.

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