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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 December, 2003, 10:04 GMT
Malaysia moots cross-cultural circumcision
By Jonathan Kent
BBC, Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia is to consider using mass circumcision ceremonies to promote racial harmony.

Circumcision is a rite of passage for young Muslim boys, and in Malaysia it is common for the ceremony to become an event with dozens, or even hundreds of boys being circumcised together.

Now the prime minister's religious affairs adviser has suggested that circumcision can bring Malaysians of all races and religions together.

Dr Abdul Hamid Othman said that with the growing popularity of circumcision among the country's non-Muslim minorities - who see it as good hygienic practice - they too could be invited to join in the celebrations with their Muslim friends.

He believes the idea could promote better race relations and he wants to see a nationwide circumcision ceremony organised.

Just over half of Malaysia's population is Muslim, mainly members of the ethnic Malay community, while the country's Chinese, Tamil and tribal peoples follow a variety of other faiths.

The government has been exploring ways of stopping the different groups from drifting apart, including the introduction of a national service scheme which begins in February.


SEE ALSO:
Circumcision 'doctor' cleared
05 Nov 03  |  London
South Africa circumcision deaths
15 Jul 03  |  Africa
Sweden restricts circumcisions
01 Oct 01  |  Europe


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