KUALA LUMPUR: The Government has given fair treatment and accorded equal opportunity to the non-Muslims in Malaysia, says Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
“We have given equal opportunities to the non-Muslims. The Malaysian Government has been fair to all religious faiths. I don’t think there has been any obstacles in practising one’s faith.
“You have to respect all religious beliefs before they give respect to us,” Dr Ahmad Zahid told reporters here after launching the fourth Asean Workshop on Effective Justice Responses to Trafficking in Persons.
He was responding to remarks by US President Barack Obama at a town hall meeting with young leaders from the region on Sunday.
At the Young South-East Asian Leaders Initiative, Obama was asked by a participant from Myanmar what would be his advice to leaders of the next generation on how to deal with diversity, such as differences in race, language and belief.
The American President replied that the biggest source of conflict around the world, war and hardship, was about treating those who were not like them differently and that the rights of the minorities, including in countries such as Myanmar and Malaysia, should be protected.
“Here in Malaysia, this is a majority Muslim country. But then, there are times where those who are non-Muslims find themselves perhaps being disadvantaged or experiencing hostility.
“In the United States, obviously historically the biggest conflicts arose around race. And we had to fight a civil war and we had to have a civil rights movement over the course of generations until I could stand before you as a President of African descent,” he said.
Obama pointed out that with the world getting “smaller”, no country was going to succeed if part of its population was put on the sidelines because they were discriminated against.