No entry for 'deviant' Indonesian Islamic scholar Ulil Abshar, says Zahid Hamidi

Ahmad Zahid said the entry ban on Dr Ulil Abshar Abdalla will remain until he is no longer found to be a danger to Islam. ― Picture by Choo Choy May
Ahmad Zahid said the entry ban on Dr Ulil Abshar Abdalla will remain until he is no longer found to be a danger to Islam. ― Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 12 — Indonesian Islamic scholar Dr Ulil Abshar Abdalla will not be allowed into the country, Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said, citing a need to protect Malaysia's brand of Islam.

The founder of the Indonesian Liberal Islam Network is scheduled to speak at a conference here Wednesday about combating the growing threat of Islamic State (IS), organised by local Muslim group, Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF).

"The police have received several reports that when he delivers lectures or attends programmes organised by non-governmental organisations, he would not only damage the faith of Muslims but also deviates from the teachings of Sunni the Wajama'ah," Ahmad Zahid was quoted by state news agency Bernama today as saying in Kuching.

According to Bernama, the minister said the entry ban on the Indonesian will remain until he is no longer found to be a danger to Islam.

Dr Ulil is regarded as a liberal Islamic scholar whose views are controversial among Islamic conservatives.

Last week, the Federal Territory Islamic Religious Department (JAWI) director Paimuzi Yahya said the IRF-organised talk would be banned, claiming Ulil lacks credentials to spread Islamic teachings in the Federal Territories.

Paimuzi said JAWI feared the discussion would threaten the sanctity of Islam and the harmony among Muslims, and called on the organisers to cancel the event or face legal action based on Sections 4, 5, and 11 of the Syariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act 1997.

Section 4 relates to the offence of teaching false doctrines, while Sections 5 and 11 prohibits the propagation of non-Islamic religious doctrines among Muslims and the teaching of Islam without tauliah or credentials.

The penalties for some of these offences include a maximum fine of RM5,000 or a maximum three-year jail term or a maximum whipping of six strokes or any combinations.

In response, IRF chairman Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa said that attempts by JAWI to enforce the laws over the talk may amount to an “abuse of power, stressing that the event was not meant to spread religious teachings or doctrines.

However, he also indicated that IRF is reviewing the event, saying that the new venue would be in Kuala Lumpur if the organisation continues with the discussion.

“We will consider the objections and we will see whether it will be possible for us to hold it or it'll be counter-productive for us,” he told Malay Mail Online on October 10.