KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 15 — Putrajaya should rethink its decision against policing the internet as Islam's “enemies” have resorted to launching cyber attacks to challenge the religion of over 60 per cent of Malaysians, the country's foremost Islamic authority said in today's sermon disseminated to Muslims nationwide.
The Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) alleged that “enemies of Islam” were prowling social media platforms, purportedly to topple the governments of Muslim-majority nations, with a nod to the conflict-riddled Middle East as an example.
“The pulpit would like to state that the abuse and misuse of the internet and telecommunications technology is against religious obligations, laws and community conduct.
“Believe it, using social media to weaken the resolve of Muslims is actually a sly strategy by the enemies of Islam which have been successful in bringing down several Islamic countries in the Middle East,” Jakim stated in its sermon, which is also available on its website.
“Therefore, the suggestions that the internet should be censored and controlled must be considered so that this facility does not end up destabilising the public and country.”
The people of Egypt, Libya and Syria had joined in the Arab Spring revolution to overthrow authoritarian rulers despite full Internet shutdown by their governments, but social media was said to have played a part in spreading their message to a global audience.
Jakim's suggestion today followed calls by Malaysia's former prime minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, for the internet to be filtered due to rampant abuse in the distribution of pornography, questionable news and slanders.
Dr Mahathir, who had promised the federal government would never censor the internet when he opened up Malaysia's information superhighway over a decade ago, has been pressing the Najib administration for a policy change, arguing that today's changing situation warranted the introduction of controls to stem the spread of offensive material online as it could threaten national security.
In today's sermon, Jakim accused international powers of an organised ploy to spread teachings such as liberalism and pluralism to the youths through the internet.
“They have launched subtle and organised attacks by spreading news that insult Islam and its adherents whether through symbols, websites, blogs, or social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and so on,” the sermon said.
Jakim has been steadfast in its attack on what it perceived as a global conspiracy against Islam, singling out ideas such as liberalism, pluralism, feminism, socialism and even positivism.
In a sermon for the Aidilfitri celebration in August, Jakim had warned Muslims nationwide against a conspiracy by “enemies of Islam”, suggested that “colonial” ideas were being used to incite challenges against Islam’s position in the Constitution.
Malaysia is already practising internet censorship, with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) announcing last week that it has blocked 2,753 websites for violating the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 and other regulations so far this year.
Of those, 15 websites were blocked for allegedly infringing the Syariah Criminal Offences Enactment, while the bulk of it at 2,611 were phishing sites.