Four missionaries arrested last week for allegedly distributing Christian material have been deported by Malaysia and barred from returning. The two men and two women, aged between 27 and 60, were detained at their hotel on Langkawi Island – a popular tourist destination last Tuesday, Premier Radio reports.
Langkawi police chief Mohamad Iqbal Ibrahim said the four, including a married couple, have been handed over to the immigration department following a decision by public prosecutors to deport them. He said they will also be blacklisted and the Christian material seized will be destroyed.
The constitution of Malaysia prohibits conversion for Malays and the propagation of non-Muslim religions. Political parties like the ruling UMNO (United Malays National Organization) and the opposing Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) uphold and protect Islam, and government officials strive to maintain and expand Islamic influence on society, to the detriment of non-Muslim minorities like Christians. Muslim NGOs that pride themselves on being the “champions of Islam” have secured strong governmental support, often stirring up racial disharmony and religious discrimination. For Christians from Muslim backgrounds, the strongest drivers of Christian persecution are immediate and extended family members.