UK & World News

  • 14 August 2014, 13:03

Student Quizzed Over Pro-Israel Facebook Post

A Malaysian teenager is being investigated by police for "liking" a pro-Israel Facebook posting.

The 17-year-old student "liked" a post that declared "I love Israel" and featured a picture of the Jewish state's flag, police said.

Abdul Rahim Hanafi, police chief in the northern state of Penang, said that the student claimed to have accidentally clicked the "like" option. 

Reports of an investigation into sedition - rebellion against authorities - have sparked outrage over perceived mounting intolerance in the Muslim-majority country.

Sedition can result in three years in jail in Malaysia. The student, who has been questioned by police, has deactivated his Facebook account.

Police are also investigating death threats against the student. He has not been publicly identified.

Malaysia has no diplomatic relations with Israel. The Jewish state's policies toward the Palestinians are fiercely criticised by Malaysian Muslims.

These sentiments have been inflamed by the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

The episode is the latest to stoke fears in multi-ethnic, multi-faith Malaysia of mounting intolerance under the decades-old regime dominated by majority Muslim Malays.

For example, minority Malaysian Christians have been under government pressure to stop using the Arabic word "Allah" for the Christian God in the Malay language.

Christians say they have used the word for centuries, but Muslims assert "Allah" is a sacred word for Islam only.

Osman Hussain, Penang's state director of education, said he would seek to resolve the student matter without police involvement.

"He is just a student. I will try to solve the issue peacefully," he said.

The affair has triggered harsh criticism online.

"Using the same twisted logic, all Malaysians using Facebook are also committing sedition as Facebook is founded by a Jew," said one person.