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Temple demolition irks Malay Hindus

At least seven temples have been torn down, served demolition notices or torched since late Feb in Malaysia.

india Updated: May 26, 2006 12:04 IST

Minority Hindus staged a rare protest on Thursday to condemn the demolition of temples by authorities.

About 50 protesters gathered on the sidewalk outside the headquarters of Kuala Lumpur City Hall, and threatened to file a civil suit against the government and local councils if the destruction of Hindu temples doesn't stop.

Waving banners that read "Demolishing temples is criminal," the protesters chanted prayers to the Hindu God of destruction, Shiva, and smashed a coconut as a prayer offering.

The activists said hundreds of Hindu houses of worship have been destroyed in the past 15 years across the country, blaming a growing "Islamisation" of Malaysia.

At least seven temples have been torn down, partly destroyed, served demolition notices or torched since late February in various parts of the country, they said.

"We are not asking for a club to play billiards. We are not asking for a prostitution centre," said P Uthayakumar, the group's lawyer. "We are asking for our temples to pray."

About 60 per cent of Malaysia's 26 million people are Malay Muslims.

Chinese, most of them Buddhist or Christian, represent about 25 per cent of the population and ethnic Indians -- mostly Hindus -- make up 10 percent.

The activists -- gathered in a coalition calling itself the Hindu Rights Action Force -- were turned away by City Hall police officers who refused to accept a petition denouncing the temple destruction.

First Published: May 25, 2006 20:00 IST