World Watch Ranking: 43

What does persecution look like in Malaysia?

Every ethnic Malay is expected to be Muslim, and Shariah law, which is implemented in certain states of the country, says that to leave Islam is punishable by death, although this has never been enforced.

Anybody who comes to know Jesus from a Muslim background is at risk. If they reveal their faith to their family, they are likely to experience extreme pressure to return to Islam and hostility from their neighbourhood. The family may try to 'protect' the family by quickly marrying their daughter or son to a Muslim. If a Sharia judge agrees, girls can be married off below the age of 16. If the authorities find out about their faith, the new Christian could be arrested, interrogated about their Christian network, pressured to name church leaders and potentially imprisoned or sentenced to death.

Christians from longer-standing denominations, like Roman Catholics and Methodists, are monitored and watched by the authorities. But non-traditional Protestant groups are purposely targeted with the aim of breaking them up, since they tend to attract more converts and be more active in sharing the gospel with Muslims.

There is evidence that state-supported plans are in place to attempt to convert Christian communities to Islam. More conservative Islamic political parties seem to be gaining increasing power and support in Malaysia, with elections due this year. Things could get even more difficult for Malaysian Christians.

Who is most vulnerable to persecution?

Believers from a Muslim background are at the highest risk of persecution, since Malay law supports the death penalty for apostasy.

Meet 'Susanna'

“I’ll run to God, because He’s the only One I can depend on and He always turns up for me.”

Susanna Koh, whose husband Pastor Raymond was abducted and is still missing

What has changed this year?

While the situation for Christians in Malaysia did not change much and Malay-Muslim supremacy was still the mainstay of Malaysian politics, the country experienced unprecedented political turmoil, affecting Malay and ethnic and religious minorities alike. Christians continue to be marginalised and this does not seem likely to change in the foreseeable future.

What does Open Doors do to help Christians in Malaysia?

Open Doors works with local church partners in Malaysia to provide discipleship training, Bibles and Christian books and socio-economic assistance.

How can you pray for Malaysia?

  • Please pray that the legal situation for Malaysian Christians will improve after the elections
  • Pray that the authorities will stop interfering in Christian gatherings
  • Pray that Malaysian Christians will know God's love for them and reflect it strongly to others.
a Prayer for Malaysia

Dear Father, we ask that You pour Your joy and hope into every believer in Malaysia today, especially those facing rejection and persecution. We pray You would intervene in the political situation and prevent harsh anti-Christian laws from being enacted more widely in Malaysia. We pray for Your protection on Christians meeting up together; may they know they are not alone. Amen.

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Persecution Level

Very High

Persecution Type
  • Islamic oppression
  • Dictatorial paranoia
  • Ethno-religious hostility

Population of Christians
3,054,000 (9.2%)

Main Religion

Federal Parliamentary Constitutional Monarchy

King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah