KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 20 — Conservative Muslim group Isma’s portal has refused to take down an article, despite a two-day ultimatum by DAP MP Kasthuri Patto for an apology and the removal of the allegedly defamatory article.
Ismaweb.net, which belongs to Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma), said it firmly stands by the article’s contents and “will not retract” it.
“The article was written by an external writer, Ustaz Nu’man bin Mazlan. After checks by Ismaweb, we found that that writing is based on the speech of Kasthuriraani a/p Patto herself, as well as based on references and accurate facts,” the portal said in a statement dated October 18.
Ismaweb sought to justify the piece by asserting that the principle to allow “murtad” or apostasy was contained in the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, saying that Kasthuri had on October 15 pushed in Parliament for Malaysia’s ratification of the declaration.
The portal claimed that Kasthuri had in Parliament referred to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) recommendations for the authorities to stop arresting followers of the Shiah or Ahmadiyyah sect of Islam — which Ismaweb described as being decreed as deviant by religious authorities.
“In relation to that, Ismaweb.net repeats its stand to not retract the article written by Ustaz Nu’man bin Mazlan that was published with the title ‘Ahli Parlimen DAP desak kebebasan murtad, ajaran sesat’ on October 15, 2018,” it said. The English translation of the article’s title would be ‘DAP MP pushes for freedom for apostasy, deviant teachings’.
On Wednesday, local daily The Star reported Kasthuri as saying that she would lodge a police report and pursue legal action against Ismaweb if it fails to apologise and retract the article.
Kasthuri reportedly strongly denied the Ismaweb article’s headline and said she had “never said anything to that effect”, adding that she has a great respect and love for Islam and that she had never said anything against Islam.
“I have never insulted Islam and in fact in my speech, I had reiterated that Islam is the official religion, but other religions could also be practiced,” she was quoted as saying.
Kasthuri had also said she has received threats on social media after the Ismaweb article became viral.
On her official Facebook account, Kasthuri had said she was contemplating taking action on Ismaweb for allegedly “propagating hatred”.
In denying the Ismaweb’s article’s headline, she had on October 18 said she had “never mentioned the issue of apostasy or deviant teachings”.
“And I have never issued any statements that go against the Federal Constitution or the religion of Islam which I respect as the official religion of Malaysia,” she said.