In otherwise tolerant Malaysia, Shiites are banned

Malaysia — In this Muslim-majority country, it’s OK to be Christian, Buddhist or Hindu. But not Shiite.

“Malaysia is trying to become a country a la Taliban that only allows one school of thought,” said prominent scholar Asri Zainul Abidin after a recent raid in which more than 100 Shiites were detained.

They had gathered to mark the death of one of their most beloved saints, Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, who was killed in the year 680.

Despite its reputation for religious tolerance, Malaysia has been quietly discriminating against its own for years. The government recognizes only the Sunni branch of Islam and prohibits all others including Shiites, the world’s second largest Islamic group.

Shiites face discrimination elsewhere, but Malaysia appears to be the only place that actually outlaws them, the Associated Press reports.


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This post was last updated: Nov. 21, 2013