PETALING JAYA: A PAS central committee member said the party was actively preaching Islam to Sarawak’s rural communities, to the point that it has created unhappiness among Christian missionaries in the state.
“PAS activists are at the forefront of Islamic propagation in rural Sarawak, so much so it has raised protest from Christian missionaries,” said Riduan Mohamad Noor, writing in party organ Harakahdaily.
Riduan’s comments were made in conjunction with the Islamist party’s 20th anniversary celebration of being in the state.
The party’s top leaders, including president, Abdul Hadi Awang, were also present for the celebrations in Kuching on Saturday.
Riduan said PAS activists in rural areas had to face stringent vetting including intimidation by civil servants.
Sarawak’s multi-ethnic demography and wide public skepticism of peninsula-based political parties were among the challenges faced by PAS to spread its influence, he said.
In the run-up to the Sarawak state elections last May, Hadi had said PAS would only accept a Bumiputera Muslim to head the state.
Earlier this year, Hadi incurred the wrath of Christian groups in Sarawak when he said that after being rejected by the educated in the West, Christian missionaries were actively engaged in proselytisation in Sarawak using money and other forms of aid.
Muslims make up a little more than 32 per cent of Sarawak’s population of 2.6 million, while 40 per cent are Christians.
PAS has never won a seat in Sarawak. In the last state elections, it contested 11 seats.