Teen who ‘liked’ pro-Israel Facebook page probed for sedition in Malaysia
A Malaysian teenager is being investigated by police for sedition after "liking" a pro-Israel Facebook posting, a move that has revived anger over the perceived rise in intolerance in the Muslim-majority country.
The 17-year-old student in the northern state of Penang had "liked" a post that declared "I love Israel" and featured a picture of the country's flag, Penang police chief Abdul Rahim Hanafi was quoted as saying by local media.
Abdul Rahim reportedly said a sedition probe was under way and that the student claimed to have accidentally clicked "like". Police are also investigating death threats against the student.
Sedition can result in three years' jail in Malaysia. The student, who has been questioned by police, has deactivated his Facebook account. He has not been identified.
Malaysia has no diplomatic relations with Israel. The Jewish state's policies toward the Palestinians are fiercely criticised by Malaysian Muslims, sentiments that have been inflamed by the deadly conflict in Gaza.
The episode is the latest to stoke public fears in multi-ethnic, multi-faith Malaysia of mounting intolerance under the decades-old regime dominated by Muslim Malays.
Osman Hussain, Penang's state director of education, said yesterday he would seek to resolve the incident without police involvement.
"He is just a student. I will try to solve the issue peacefully," he said.
The affair triggered harsh criticism online. "Using the same twisted logic, all Malaysians using Facebook are also committing sedition as Facebook is founded by a Jew," said one reader posting on popular online news portal Malaysiakini, denouncing such "extremism".