World Watch Ranking: 49

What does persecution look like in Malaysia?

Every ethnic Malay is assumed to be Muslim, as defined by the Malaysian constitution. This means that any ethnic Malay who converts from Christianity is at risk of breaking the law and being punished under Shariah law. These converts can also face incredible pressure from their families and the broader community. 

The country's political instability—there have been four prime ministers since 2018—has led to more political parties trying to appeal to conservative Islamic voters. A conservative Islamic political party has made gains at both the local and national levels, and it is now the largest party though it's not in power. Party leaders regularly make statements of opposition against religious and ethnic minorities, including Christians. 

Even historic Christian denominations or non-profits are watched by authorities, and any group seen as being more open to evangelism is at risk for official interference. 

Who is most vulnerable to persecution?

Ethnic Malays who convert from Islam are the most vulnerable to persecution. 

Meet 'a church leader'

"There is a teacher who was declared [medically] paralyzed for the rest of her life, but we prayed for her and she can walk again. Now she focuses on listening to the Word of God. She already experienced the miracle and power of God, and now she has responded to wanting to know the Lord more. This radio really helps her in that process."

A Malaysian church leader who has helped distribute audio Bibles in indigenous languages

What has changed this year?

There were ongoing cases of Christians wishing to change their official religion from Islam and being denied. In an effort to stem the rise of the more Islamic political party, the ruling government, which many observers hoped would implement reforms, instead decided to continue to emphasize Islam and favor Malay/Muslim-centric policies. The discrimination and marginalization that Malaysian Christians experience continue to be widespread and show no signs of letting up. 

What does Open Doors do to help Christians in Malaysia?

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

How can you pray for Malaysia?

  • Pray that God’s Spirit reveals Jesus to ethnic Malays through His Word, visions and the witness of Christians. 
  • Pray that Christians who are able to worship freely will find ways to encourage and uplift their sisters and brothers who must follow Jesus in the shadows.
  • Ask God to end the unjust treatment of Christians under the law. Ask Him to help Malaysian authorities to govern fairly and without discrimination.
a Prayer for Malaysia

Dear God, we pray for Your people in Malaysia as they endure pressure and pain because they follow You. Please be with believers throughout the country—particularly those who have made the courageous decision to follow Jesus out of Islam. We ask for encouragement for the many Malaysian believers who serve You openly, that they would be strengthened and given wisdom to walk with You. Thank You for our Malaysian family and their witness for You. In Jesus' name, Amen. 

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Persecution Level

Very High

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

Population of Christians
3,096,000 (9.2%)

Main Religion

Federal Parliamentary Constitutional Monarchy

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim