Christian abductions becoming rampant in Muslim-majority Malaysia

The abductions of Christians are feared to have become a trend in Muslim-majority Malaysia, and the disappearance of Pastor Raymond Koh in Kuala Lumpur has reportedly sparked concerns that those who are helping the poor become the target of vigilante groups.

(REUTERS / Bazuki Muhammad)The Dream Centre Damansara Utama Methodist Church in Petaling Jaya, outside Kuala Lumpur, September 9, 2011.

In an interview with the BBC, Pastor Koh's son Jonathan remarked at how well executed the abduction of his father appeared. The family believes that the disappearance of the Christian pastor was religiously motivated and that he is only one of the individuals being kidnapped across Malaysia.

"The operation was very well planned. They knew who he was, where he was going, and probably had been tracking him," Jonathan told BBC in the interview. "It was very professionally executed."

Pastor Koh runs a ministry called Harapan Komuniti which helps the poor, drug addicts, and single mothers. The Islamic authorities previously launched an investigation into the organization after it was accused of converting Muslims to Christianity. It is worth noting that renouncing Islam is considered a crime in Malaysia.

Koh's family, however, denies the accusation and contends that the pastor was not trying to violate the laws in the Muslim-dominated country. Nevertheless, Jonathan said the kidnapping is uncalled for.

"He would never ask anyone to leave Islam," said Jonathan. "His alleged proselytism is not an excuse for kidnapping. If he did anything wrong, he should have the right as any citizen to trial."

The Council of Churches of Malaysia's general secretary Hermen Shastri said Koh's abduction has sparked worry among Christians. He told BBC that the believers are concerned that vigilante groups are targeting individuals who are actively helping the poor.

In an article published on April 17, Malaysia Chronicle said people disappearing are not exactly an oddity in Malaysia. The report says there is an average of three unsolved missing persons case that happen every day in the last five years.

However, the Chronicle noted that Pastor Koh and three other individuals who disappeared in the past two months are known to be active in social work. All of them have notably angered the Muslim community in Malaysia by either proselytization or apostasy, but nobody knows for sure the exact reason why they were abducted or why they went missing.