Sabah leaders sue PAS MP over insensitive Bible remark

Nik Zawawi Mohammad Salleh arrives at the Sheraton Hotel in Petaling Jaya February 23, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Nik Zawawi Mohammad Salleh arrives at the Sheraton Hotel in Petaling Jaya February 23, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KOTA KINABALU, Sept 4 ― Two Sabah Christians from Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR) today filed a lawsuit against Pasir Puteh MP Nik Muhammad Zawawi Salleh for his statement that the Bible has been distorted. 

Tanjung Aru Sabah STAR division chief Marcel Jude Joseph and a Tambunan member of the party Margaret Binsing said Nik Zawawi’s comments are blasphemous and in breach of the Constitution, which allows everyone to practice and manage their own religion.

In a writ of summons filed at the Kota Kinabalu High Court here today, the two sought an injunction to restrain Nik Zawawi from making defamatory, malicious, injurious, blasphemous remarks about the Christian faith and religion.

“The statement of the defendant is in contravention or unlawful interference of the Plaintiff’s right to freedom of religion under Article 11 of the Federal Constitution,” they said in their statement of claim.

Marcel and Binsing claimed in their court papers that Nik Zawawi’s statement contained contemptuous, reviling and scurrilous or ludicrous matter relating to God, Jesus Christ and the bible.

They said that the law does not interfere in the bona fide opinion of the religion, but only if couched in decent and temperate language.

The duo is also seeking damages for unlawful interference with their constitutional right to freedom of religion under Article 11 of the federal Constitution.

The court has fixed October 5 as the date of mention.  

Nik Zawawi sparked public outrage with his comment made during a debate on a transportation Bill in Parliament’s Lower House last week.

While debating the Road Transport (Amendment) Bill 2020 to propose heavier fines for drink-driving offences, the Pasir Puteh MP asserted that the Bible had been perverted or corrupted, which immediately drew condemnation from other members of the hall.

Nik Zawawi was later reported saying that he had no reason to apologise since his statement was “a fact”, and suggested that the community had “no right to be offended.”

He has since been criticised by political leaders from both sides.

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