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August 14, 2014 7:10 pm

Malaysian Teen’s Facebook ‘Like’ of Post That Says ‘I Love Israel’ Prompts Sedition Probe

avatar by Joshua Levitt

Facebook logo. Photo: WikiCommons.

Facebook logo. Photo: WikiCommons.

A 17-year-old student in the northern Malaysian state of Penang was placed under investigation for sedition, after “liking” a post on Facebook that said “I love Israel” and featured an Israeli flag, Penang Police Chief Abdul Rahim Hanafi told Malaysian newspapers on Wednesday, AFP reported on Thursday.

The teen, who has since deactivated his Facebook account, claimed to have accidentally clicked “like” on the post, but the police are now also investigating death threats against him. If convicted of sedition, the unnamed teen could face three years in prison.

AFP quoted one reader on popular online news portal Malaysiakini, denouncing such “extremism,” who said, “Using the same twisted logic, all Malaysians using Facebook are also committing sedition as Facebook is founded by a Jew.”

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AFP said: “The episode is the latest in a series of incidents to stoke public fears in multi-ethnic, multi-faith Malaysia of mounting intolerance under the decades-old regime dominated by majority Muslim Malays.”

Malaysia has no diplomatic relations with Israel, and Christians are under pressure to change a centuries-long custom of referring to their god in Malay as Allah, just like the Muslims do, as Muslim groups pressured the government to respect their belief that “Allah” is a sacred word for Islam only.

The question of free speech also has bedeviled Malaysia, as Communication Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek threatened to block Facebook after a posting was deemed insulting to Malaysia’s Islamic royalty.

State education authorities said they hoped to resolve the sedition probe peacefully because the teen is under age.

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