Malaysian Mus­lims rally to de­fend rights

DNA Sunday (Mumbai) - - W RLD - —AFP

Kuala Lumpur: Tens of thou­sands of ban­ner-wav­ing Mus­lims ral­lied in the Malaysian cap­i­tal Satur­day to de­fend their long-cher­ished priv­i­leges, at a time of grow­ing racial ten­sions in the multi-eth­nic coun­try.

About 55,000 peo­ple dressed in white flooded a his­toric square in down­town Kuala Lumpur, ac­cord­ing to po­lice, chant­ing “God is great” and bran­dish­ing ban­ners that read “Long live the Malays”. Large num­bers of po­lice were on the streets and ma­jor roads were closed for the event, which was the first ma­jor rally since Prime Minister Ma­hathir Mo­hamad won a shock elec­tion vic­tory in May and top­pled the scan­dal-mired old regime.

Race and re­li­gion are sen­si­tive in Malaysia, which is home to size­able eth­nic Chi­nese and In­dian com­mu­ni­ties, and the Mus­lim Malay ma­jor­ity ap­pears to be feel­ing in­creas­ingly in­se­cure un­der a new gov­ern­ment that is more rep­re­sen­ta­tive of mi­nori­ties.

The rally was orig­i­nally in­tended as a protest against a plan by the gov­ern­ment to rat­ify a UN con­ven­tion which aims to elim­i­nate racial dis­crim­i­na­tion.

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