Putrajaya in espionage, psychological warfare against ‘liberal’ Islamic groups, minister says

Islamic affairs minister Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom said the government has been improving cooperation between religious authorities and security agencies towards groups that have been gazetted as deviant to enhance law enforcement. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Islamic affairs minister Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom said the government has been improving cooperation between religious authorities and security agencies towards groups that have been gazetted as deviant to enhance law enforcement. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, March 17 — Islamic affairs minister Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom admitted today that the government is engaging in espionage and psychological warfare on “liberal” Muslim Malaysians to counter deviant teachings.

In response to PAS’s Pasir Mas MP Nik Mohamad Abduh Nik Aziz who wanted to know the government’s efforts to curb the growth of liberal Islam, Jamil said a tough stance has been adopted since 2009 when the National Fatwa Council (NFC) decided that the ideology “deviates” from the Sunni school and Shariah.

“Psychological warfare through discussions and dialogues with deviant groups” and “monitoring and intelligence gathering” data on designated deviant groups via filtering of their print and electronic publications were among the four preventive measures that stood out in the list provided in his written parliamentary reply.

The minister in the Prime Minister’s Department also said the NFC has issued a fatwa against the concept of pluralism because it holds the human intellect to be a revelation.

He added that pluralism also advocates scepticism on the authenticity of the Quran, questions the methodology in interpretations of the Quran and hadith, calls for new interpretations of worship, disputes the criteria and morals of prophets and has its own methods to refer to comprehend Islamic law.

Jamil said the government has been improving cooperation between religious authorities and security agencies towards groups that have been gazetted as deviant to enhance law enforcement.

Additionally, it issues relevant fatwas and conducts talks, seminars and provides explanations through print and electronic media on ideologies that deviate from the Sunni school.

Several Muslim advocacy groups and individuals have come under the government’s hammer purportedly for questioning the way Islam is being spread in the country.

Among high-profile cases is Sisters in Islam (SIS), which has taken the state government and its Islamic department and council to court to challenge its “deviant” label under a Selangor gazetted fatwa.

The High Court has granted SIS leave for its judicial review, with a hearing date fixed for June 24.

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