Malaysian Newspaper Apologizes for Changing Anti-Scientology Speech Into Anti-Islam Speech

In November, 2009, Senator Nick Xenophon told the Australian Senate, “Scientology is not a religious organisation. It is a criminal organisation that hides behind its so-called religious beliefs.”

On Wednesday, an article in the Malaysia’s New Straits Times not only said Mr. Xenonophon was “critical of Islam,” but changed quotes from his speech by replacing the term ‘Scientology’ with ‘Islam.”

The Washington Post says

Nick Xenophon, an independent parliamentarian representing South Australia, was in Malaysia in late April– on the invitation of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim – as part of a fact-finding mission on the upcoming Malaysian elections. He was also an independent observer at Saturday’s Bersih rally. […]

A spokesperson from the department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra said the ministry was “concerned and disappointed by a misleading media report” that incorrectly quoted the Senator, and said they had raised those concerns with the editors of the New Straits Times.

On Thursday the New Straits Times issued an apology. Its editor wrote, “We accept that in his speech in the Australian Parliament, referred to in the article, Mr Xenophon did not use the word ‘Islam’ and neither did he assert that Islam is not a religious organisation nor a criminal organisation hiding behind its religious belief.”


But Radio Australia reported that Xenophon may sue the paper for defamation.

The West Australian quotes Xenophon as saying

“This newspaper happens to have close links with the ruling party in Malaysia, the ruling party is clearly upset with me because I was part of an international fact-finding mission that made some scathing criticisms of the Malaysian election system and the possibility of widespread electoral fraud.”

The paper also notes Mr. Xenophon said that — amid concerns for his safety — the paper’s apology was too little, too late.

He met with Muslim Cleric Imam Hamzah, in Adelaide on Friday, to discuss the matter.

“The concern is this is trying to incite hatred, not only against me, but against other Australians for no good reason,” he said.

“That’s something that will be sorted out in the courts in Malaysia, because I will be taking action on this.” […]

The Imam agrees that because of the incorrect statement, Senator Xenophon’s safety could be compromised when he travels overseas.

Read Senator Nick Xenophon’s speech on Scientology

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog)

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This post was last updated: May. 9, 2014