Malaysia PM Najib orders police to investigate anti-church protest

PETALING JAYA (The Star/Asia News Network) - Police will investigate a recent protest at a church near Kuala Lumpur, said Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak on Tuesday.

"If the protesters violate the country's laws, action can be taken against them under the Sedition Act or other the existing laws," said Mr Najib in a statement.

"The Cabinet feels that members of the group should have discussed it with the authorities if they have objections and not take action that can cause anxiety among the multiracial society in Malaysia," he said.

A group of 50 residents in Taman Medan, near Kuala Lumpur, on Sunday staged a protest against a new church housed in a shoplot. The protestors claimed that a cross the church had put up on the building in a largely Muslim area "challenged Islam" and could influence younger minds. They demanded that the church take down the cross.

The church authorities removed the sign at around 2pm on the same day after a village leader who spoke with the church pastor.

The protest is the latest case of religious conflict that has attracted national attention in Malaysia.

Mr Najib said in his statement that the people must obey the laws of the country and respect the religious practices of various faiths as enshrined in the Constitution.

"We have to practise tolerance and respect for other races from different religious backgrounds. The Sedition Act is aimed at maintaining peace and harmony of all races in the country and it protects all races and religions," he added.
On Monday, Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the protesters can face action under the Sedition Act.
"Regardless of who, if anyone touches on any religion, they are subject to the Sedition Act," Dr Zahid said.

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