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Muslims pray during morning prayer for Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, July 6, 2016 (AP photo by Vincent Thian).

A Political Divide Over Islamic Law Could Undo Malaysia’s Social Fabric

Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016

During my last visit to Malaysia in February, I met the famed film director Chiu Keng Guan to discuss his fourth and latest movie, “Ola Bola.” It had just come out in local cinemas and was already proving to be such a sensation that one newspaper asked if there was an “Ola Bola overload.” A little misty-eyed perhaps, the film is a fictionalized account of the Malaysian national football team’s qualification for the 1980 Olympic Games, arguably one of the country’s finest sporting milestones, made all the more memorable by the fact that it was achieved by a multiracial, multireligious team.

“Ola Bola is a story about Malaysia,” Chiu told me as we sat on the steps of the decaying Stadium Merdeka, where independence from Britain was announced in 1957. “I wanted to talk about team spirit, how a team of young players went through difficulties, trained together, sweated together, and how they worked as a team.” ...

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