National Laws on Blasphemy: Malaysia

In Malaysia, the state exerts considerable effort to restrain blasphemy, particularly in publications. Under Articles 295-298A of the Penal Code, it is a crime to insult any religion, though this law is mostly exercised against those who offend the sensibilities of Malaysia’s Sunni Muslim majority. Additionally, the Printing Press and Publications Act of 1984 forbids any texts or images from being published that have the potential to disturb public security or morality. Punishments for both of these measures are up to three years imprisonment or a fine. The government restricts freedom of expression for non-Muslim groups by reserving the use of certain words for Islamic publications, including Allah (“God” in Arabic). In the twenty-first century anti-blasphemy actions by the government include seizing children’s books depicting the biblical figures Moses and Noah—whom Muslims consider prophets and whose visual depiction of is thus forbidden—from a Christian bookstore, suspending a newspaper for a month for publishing a drawing of Jesus Christ with a cigarette and beer, and mandating counseling for Muslims involved in Black Metal music.