KUALA LUMPUR: The Government has been fair to the country's non-Muslims and accorded them equal opportunities, said Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
"We have given equal opportunities to non-Muslims. The Malaysian Government has been fair to all religions. I don't think there have been any obstacles in practising any religion.
"You have to respect other religions before they give respect to us," Zahid told reporters here Monday after officiating the fourth Asean Workshop on Effective Justice Responses to Trafficking in Persons.
He was responding to US President Barack Obama’s statement Sunday that the country could not progress if some of its population were "put on the sidelines or discriminated against".
Obama, the first serving US president to visit Malaysia in 48 years, was speaking at the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) townhall meeting at Universiti Malaya.
However, Dr Ahmad Zahid declined to comment when questioned how non-Muslims were treated equally when most Government policies favoured the majority Malays, who make up 67.4% of the country's population, according to the Department of Statistics.
When queried about issues of the judiciary between the Syariah and Civil Courts, Dr Ahmad Zahid said the matter of non-Muslims being at a disadvantage was "only a perception".
Malaysia has been the centre of international scrutiny following the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) raid of 351 bibles from the Bible Society of Malaysia in Damansara Kim in January.
Jais, which entered the premises with no warrant, said it was enforcing a 1988 state enactment banning non-Muslims from using the word "Allah".
Earlier this month, the Pahang Islamic and Malay Customs Council's (Muip) issued a ban on non-Muslim religious material in Pahang hotels.
In 2013, the Government won an appeal to overturn a High Court decision allowing the use of the word "Allah" in Catholic weekly The Herald.