KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 15 — Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang insisted today that the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS), of which he used to be a leader, is not a terrorist group unlike the now-defunct Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
The president of Islamist party PAS said such accusations, including by local lawmakers, were due to its critics’ alleged lack of knowledge regarding the group.
“I assume those who made such statements do not understand the entire picture and is unsure of the difference between LTTE and the IUMS,” he said while debating Budget 2020 in Parliament.
“Maybe they have overlooked the diplomatic relations between Qatar and other nations, as the IUMS is more towards being an NGO, based on intellect, and not based on arms and violent conflict.”
The Marang MP was asked to explain the difference between IUMS and LTTE, with two local state lawmakers having since been arrested by police for their alleged involvement with the latter group.
“The IUMS comprises Muslim scholars of various disciplines to forge closer ties among Muslims in terms of intellectual knowledge.
“It is more unfortunate when government MPs, without knowing, say the battle in Sri Lanka is the same as the fight [of IUMS], as this contradicts the actual reality,” he said.
Hadi was appointed as one of IUMS’ vice-presidents in 2014, but has been chided by its president Yusuf in 2016 after his visit to Iran, a key backer of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s regime amid violence in the strife-torn country.
The Qatar-based IUMS is a group of Muslim scholars headed by Egyptian theologian Yusuf Al-Qardawi, whom Saudi Arabia has also accused of having links to terrorism.
Besides Saudi, the group is also designated as a terrorist organisation by three other Gulf states: Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain.
In comparison, LTTE is designated as a terrorist group by 32 countries, including Malaysia.
When asked by Kota Melaka MP Khoo Poay Tiong on why some still see IUMS as a terrorist organisation, Hadi attributed it to the diplomatic ties between the Middle-East nations.
“There are representatives from various countries in the IUMS, where when I went to perform my umrah I was not stopped,” Hadi explained, using the term for a minor Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.
In 2017, Hadi had blamed the inclusion of IUMS into a terrorist list by Saudi Arabia and its allies on the so-called “Mason-International Zionist” network.