JOHOR BARU, Sept 10 ― The Johor Islamic Religious Department (JAINJ) detained eight people, including four foreigners, during a raid against suspected Shiah followers at a house in Taman Bukit Kempas here early today.
The raiding party, led by JAINJ enforcement unit assistant director Noorfendi Abdul Jabar, saw 54 people consisting of 31 men and 23 women, screened at the three-storey house during the two-hour operation that started at 10.45pm last night.
The operation, called “Ops Hauzah”, were targeting adherents of the Shiah denomination of Islam based on information that last night was the beginning of the Day of Ashura, which commemorates the death of Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Hussain Ali during the Battle of Karbala more than 3,000 years ago.
In Malaysia, only the Sunni denomination of Islam and its Shafie school of jurisprudence are considered official.
The Shiah denomination is Islam’s second-largest and practised by an estimated 15 per cent of the 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide, but is regarded as deviant here.
A source told Malay Mail that eight men, between their early 30s to 70s, were detained by the religious authorities while being assisted by police during the operation.
“Those detained were four Malaysians, two Singaporeans, an Indonesian and also a Yemeni.
“The raiding team also seized a Shiah devotional text called Kitab Luhuf, a notebook containing lecture material and a black flag containing the name of Fatima al-Zahra,” said the source on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.
Initial investigations revealed that the house was a homestay rented for RM1,000 per day.
The source said the eight suspects will be investigated under Section 9 of the Johor Syariah Criminal Offences Enactment 1997 for violating the order of the Sultan, mufti as well as fatwa, which carries a RM3,000 fine and one-year jail sentence.
“However, the remainder 46 of those that were not detained have been issued summonses for investigation purposes,” revealed the source.
Johor Religious Affairs, Agriculture and Rural Development Committee chairman Tosrin Jarvanthi was scheduled to hold a press conference, believed to be related to the raid.
It has since been called off.
The Islamic religious authorities have declared Shiah teachings as deviant and have been conducting raids targeting its adherents.