When Khalid Ismath was arrested in Malaysia recently after taking part in the country’s third “Walk for Democracy” in Kuala Lampur, the nation’s capital, he was interrogated by police in an unusual manner, according to his lawyers.
In addition to asking personal questions about sexual habits, “they also asked him if he was involved in LGBT activities, why he was on Facebook as it belonged to a Jew, and why he was paying so much for his Internet bills as the money was being contributed to Jews.”
“What have these things got to do with the reason why he was arrested?” the lawyer asked.
The rally, which is referred to as “Bersih 3.0″, the third such mass gathering since 2007 to encourage electoral reforms in Malaysia, was organized by the country’s three main opposition parties. Demands of those in attendance include a minimum election process of at least 21 days, free access to mainstream media, a reformation of postal voting, and a clean up of what the activists say is a corrupted political process.
Ismath’s lawyer claims he was kept in a cold room by police, with the air conditioner and fan turned on as a form of “torture”.
Malaysia’s Jewish community is quite small, with approximately 100 Jews left in the country. Most of them reside on the island of Penang, where the Jewish cemetary there is believed to be the oldest cemetary in the country. In 2011, the British football club Chelsea filed a complaint with Malaysia’s Football Association due to the anti-Semitic abuse their Israeli midfielder, Yossi Benayoun faced during a friendly in Kuala Lampur.