IRF director accused of sexual harassment welcomes police investigation, claims to be victim of targeted attack

Yesterday, Malay Mail quoted three former members about the sexual harassment they allegedly faced from one of the think tank’s directors, following a call by women’s rights groups for an independent investigation into these allegations. ― Picture by Gift Habeshaw/Unsplash via Reuters
Yesterday, Malay Mail quoted three former members about the sexual harassment they allegedly faced from one of the think tank’s directors, following a call by women’s rights groups for an independent investigation into these allegations. ― Picture by Gift Habeshaw/Unsplash via Reuters

KUALA LUMPUR, July 10 ― The Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) director accused of sexual harassment by the think tank’s former members said he is a victim of a “concerted effort” to tarnish his name.

The director, whose statement has already been recorded by the police, said he welcomes the investigation since it would be an opportunity for him to clear his name.

He also added that he will take appropriate legal action to deal with the matter.

“Since there appears to be a police report on the matter, I cannot comment on this but I welcome any investigation because it will be an opportunity for me to clear my name,” the director said through a text message.

He was responding to news portal Malaysiakini’s request for comments on a police report lodged against him for alleged sexual assault.

The text messages were also relayed to Malay Mail.

Yesterday, Malay Mail quoted three former members about the sexual harassment they allegedly faced from one of the think tank’s directors, following a call by women’s rights groups for an independent investigation into these allegations.

One of the accusers had lodged the abovementioned police report.

Speaking to Malaysiakini, the director also denied one of the two other allegations as malicious, baseless and fabrications. He did not address the third allegation.

Malay Mail also spoke with four other activists involved with IRF over the past eight years, and three admitted hearing rumours and complaints of sexual impropriety during their time with the think tank, including two specific instances that cannot be verified yet.

No other police reports have been lodged against the alleged perpetrator.

The director had initially refused to make any comments to Malay Mail prior to the publication of the article.

Formed in 2009, IRF describes itself as a movement to empower youth and promote Muslim intellectual discourse, and has advanced local discourse involving Islam and the enforcement of Shariah laws in Malaysia through its events, talks and commentaries.

IRF itself has yet to issue any statement.

Yesterday, the police said a 56-year-old activist and NGO leader had been apprehended for questioning in relation to a report lodged against him for alleged sexual harassment that happened in November last year.

Kuala Lumpur police chief Commissioner Datuk Seri Mazlan Lazim, through a brief statement, confirmed the arrest. The director has since been released on bail.

The case is being investigated under Section 354 of the Penal Code for assault or use of criminal force to a person with intent to outrage modesty.

On Tuesday, the Joint Action Group for Gender Equality urged lRF to initiate an independent investigation into the allegations after four of IRF activists publicly dissociated themselves from the group as long as the director remains.

The coalition of 14 women’s rights groups said appropriate steps must be taken to secure the confidentiality of the complainants and their protection against any intimidation.

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