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1. Malaysia bans all religious discussions
The Malaysian government is concerned that debate over its Constitution's freedom of religion clause is getting too heated. So it has banned any public speech about religion. "Public discussions such as these have the potential to create resentment among the public," Datuk Seri Mohd Nazri Aziz, who holds the title Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, explained to the Malaysian media Monday. "They have widened the gap between the different faiths and because of that, the government has decided to ban all public discussions, forums, and conferences on the matter before it gets out of hand."

It's not so bad, Nazri claimed. "Those who wish to discuss such matters are free to meet the Prime Minister," he said. "We are not concerned with private discussions at home; what we worry about are inter-faith roadshows, public forums, and conferences. … The government has given Malaysians the freedom to discuss any current issue, even the freedom to criticize us in a constructive manner. We, however, cannot extend this freedom to religion because it can incite disharmony in our multi-religious society."

Malaysia's Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, made it clear that the action was taken as much to protect Islam's status in the country as it was to protect the peace.

"I have always said do not raise this matter [of religion]," he said. "But it emerges here, there, back and forth. If we take the attitude [not to raise religious matters], then only the religion [of Islam] has the status quo. But if it is continuously being raised, what will happen then? A conflict."

Abdullah then criticized four state governments for not outlawing the spread of religions other than ...

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Ted Olsen
Ted Olsen is Christianity Today's managing editor for news and online journalism. He wrote the magazine's Weblog—a collection of news and opinion articles from mainstream news sources around the world—from 1999 to 2006. In 2004, the magazine launched Weblog in Print, which looks for unexpected connections and trends in articles appearing in the mainstream press. The column was later renamed "Tidings" and ran until 2007.
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Malaysia Bans Religious Speech
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