Citing Nur Fitri case, Najib says liberalism a threat to Muslim identity

Najib said the liberalism and advocates of liberal ideas have been posing ‘tough’ challenges to Muslim in Malaysia. — AFP pic
Najib said the liberalism and advocates of liberal ideas have been posing ‘tough’ challenges to Muslim in Malaysia. — AFP pic

PUTRAJAYA, May 14 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today that Islam and its followers are still being tested by the threat of liberalism, citing as example the case of Nur Fitri Azmeer Nordin, the Malaysian math scholar recently convicted for possession of child pornography in the UK.

Najib said liberalism and advocates of liberal ideas have been posing “tough” challenges to Muslims here and could even end up ruining the Muslim identity.

“This threat (liberalism) will ruin the Muslim identity because the liberal ones will take the easy route in matters of religious principles, and from there, groups such as liberal Muslims, LGBT (Lesbians, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender), human rightism and many more will be born,” he said in his speech at the launch of the Malaysia Wasatiyyah Institute in his official residence in Seri Perdana here.

“We take the example of a student who was involved in a despicable activity in the UK recently, that was shocking. It shows such elements exist among Muslims,” Najib said, referring to liberalism.

Nur Fitri made headlines here recently when British media revealed his conviction in the UK on April 30 for possessing over 30,000 videos and photographs of child pornography that the London police described as “some of the most extreme” materials they have ever seen.

Najib said that to curb liberalism and extremism, Putrajaya is adopting approaches that are relevant to current times.

Moderation, said the prime minister, is the best way.

“A wasatiyyah approach is the best way to address this problem as wasatiyyah is the main tenet (in Islam) which underlines the principles of ‘maqasid syariah’ (intentions of Shariah),” Najib added.

He said that efforts to improve maqasid syariah must also be done objectively so that thoughts that are irrational and extreme can be filtered in a prudent way by the government.

Najib had made a similar remark last year in a speech in Kuantan where he cautioned that Islam and its followers are being tested by new threats under the guise of humanism, secularism, liberalism and human rights.

The prime minister had warned at the time that this mindset appeared to be becoming a new form of religion that is fast expanding locally and abroad.

“They call it human rightism, where the core beliefs are based on humanism and secularism as well as liberalism,” he was quoted in Bernama as saying then when opening the 57th national-level Quran Recital Assembly at the Dewan Jubli Perak Sultan Ahmad Shah.

In his speech today, Najib also spoke about the Charlie Hebdo massacre that took place in France, saying that the caricatures depicting Prophet Muhammad in the Paris-based satirical magazine had been a clear provocation to Islam, although it was guised under freedom of expression.

“Islam is being smeared with provocation.

“In Charlie Hebdo’s case, the caricature of Prophet Muhammad in Europe, they take this as freedom of expression and what was prioritised was freedom, but they don’t differentiate freedom of expression with freedom to offend,” Najib said.

“What’s important is the right to express without limitation. This is what is labelled as totalitarian freedom and human rights.

On January 7, 12 staff members of the Charlie Hebdo magazine were massacred when two Islamist gunmen — enraged by caricatures of Prophet Mohammed — stormed an editorial meeting in Paris.

“For them, the right to offend till it can incite violence and hatred. This is what gives rise to hate preachers, who I do not wish to name,” Najib said.

He added, however, that it is important for Muslims to deal with issues and challenges confronting Islam in a calm manner (bermuhasabah).

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