Malaysia punishes Singaporean in prayer room row

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 17, 2013 at 9:04 am •  Published: August 17, 2013
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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysian authorities on Saturday revoked the immigration privileges held by a Singaporean man who offended some Muslims by allegedly letting Buddhists use an Islamic prayer room.

The case has provoked debate about whether the government in Muslim-majority Malaysia is increasingly bowing to pressure by religious conservatives who want stern penalties against people accused of insulting Islam.

Police detained the Singaporean-born owner of a southern Malaysian beach resort for several days earlier this month after he was believed to have allowed Buddhist tourists to meditate in the resort's Islamic prayer room.

Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the Muslim man has been stripped of his "permanent residency" status that enabled him to live and work in Malaysia without visa requirements.

The man has been released by police and is not formally charged with any crime, but the government's decision was "based on the law in the interests of religion and the nation," Ahmad Zahid wrote on Twitter.