The Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) has emphasised the need to protect religious freedom after the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (Jais) arrested 50 Pakistanis who were Shiite Muslims.
The Pakistanis were arrested while participating in Ashura, an annual ceremony celebrated by Shiite Muslims.
“Suhakam refers to the arrest of 50 Shiite Pakistani nationals by Jais for allegedly participating in a religious ceremony.
“In keeping with its overall mandate, Suhakam maintains the position that everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
“This right shall include the freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice and freedom, either individually or in community with others in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching,” said Suhakam chairperson Razali Ismail.
He stressed that no one should be subjected to coercion that would impair their freedom of religion or belief of choice.
“These are in line with the universal standards as contained in, among others, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR),” he said.
The vast majority of Muslims in Malaysia are Sunnis while Shiites are considered as “deviant” by the government.