Islamic enforcers slam brakes on forum with liberal Muslim scholar, warn organisers of jail

Islamic authorities in Malaysia have warned organisers of a forum featuring Liberal Islam Network Indonesia founder Dr Ulil Abshar Abdalla that they will be prosecuted if they insist on proceeding with the event. — File pic
Islamic authorities in Malaysia have warned organisers of a forum featuring Liberal Islam Network Indonesia founder Dr Ulil Abshar Abdalla that they will be prosecuted if they insist on proceeding with the event. — File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 10 ― Islamic authorities here have warned organisers of a forum featuring a liberal Indonesian Islamic scholar that they will be prosecuted using laws that could result in imprisonment if they insist on proceeding with the event.

Federal Territory Islamic Religious Department (JAWI) director Paimuzi Yahya said the roundtable discussion was prohibited as it features Liberal Islam Network Indonesia founder Dr Ulil Abshar Abdalla, who allegedly has no credentials to spread Islamic teachings in the Federal Territories, Utusan Malaysia reported today.

Voicing fears that the discussion would threaten the sanctity of Islam and the harmony among Muslims, Paimuzi then urged the alleged joint organiser Global Movement of Moderates (GMM) to cancel the event in Kuala Lumpur.

“If the roundtable discussion that is set to be held at GMM’s office, Menara Manulife, Bukit Damansara continues on, JAWI will take action based on Sections 4, 5, and 11 of the Syariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act 1997,” he was quoted saying in a statement yesterday.

Under Section 4 relating to the offence of false doctrine, anyone who teaches doctrine that is contrary to Islamic law or fatwas (religious edicts) faces a maximum fine of RM5,000 or a maximum three-year jail term or a maximum whipping of six strokes or any combinations.

Under Section 5, those who propagate non-Islamic religious doctrines or beliefs among Muslims will face a maximum fine of RM3,000 or a maximum two-year jail term or both.

Under Section 11, those who teaches on Islam without a tauliah or credentials granted under Section 96 of the Administration Act will face a maximum fine of RM5,000 and a maximum three-year jail term or both,

The 1997 Act states that it applies only to persons professing the religion of Islam and to the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur and Labuan, but does not state whether it may apply to non-Malaysians.

A flyer of the event called “Diskusi Meja Bulat: Tantangan Fundamentalisme Agama Abad Ini” (Roundtable discussion: The challenge of religious fundamentalism in this decade) states that it is jointly organised by the Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) and the GMM.

Besides Ulil, IRF’s Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia’s Prof Tajuddin Rasli are featured as intervenors.

In a separate news report by Bernama yesterday, national religious authority Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (JAKIM) similarly called for the event to be blocked, with its director-general Datuk Othman Mustapha saying that Malaysia only practises Sunni Islam, citing the National Fatwa Council’s 1996 decision to only allow Sunni Islam.

Othman said the speaker invited for the IRF event carried liberal views that are linked to supporters of the Ahmadiah or Qadiani sect that has been declared through religious edicts in Indonesia and Malaysia as deviating from Islam, Bernama said.

Othman said that the appearance of such speakers was dangerous and could threaten the faith of Muslims in Malaysia.