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Apr 3, 2008

Muslim Politician Makes Rare Visits To Church, Temples

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA: A lawmaker from Malaysia's Islamic opposition party said Wednesday (2 Apr) he made rare visits to a church and temples to help assure non-Muslim minorities about their religious rights.

Khalid Abdul Samad, a Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party lawmaker, said he wanted to ease suspicions among non-Muslims that his party wants to curb their religious freedoms.

"It's time to set the record straight," Khalid told The Associated Press. "We respect the rights of non-Muslims. There's no plan to stifle other religions or create problems for them."

Khalid's visit to the Christian church and two Hindu temples last week was a rare move by a Muslim politician. Many of Malaysia's Muslim public figures have been wary of appearing in places of worship other than mosques, fearing criticism by conservative Muslims. A few politicians have made such visits discreetly.

Khalid's party has long alienated minorities with its call for a hard-line theocratic state. But it toned down its religious rhetoric and allied itself with two secular, multiethnic opposition groups for elections last month.more...


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