After activist Ali Abd Jalil, Malaysia can expect more from its Malay-Muslim community to leave the country and seek refuge abroad if local Islamic authorities continue to prosecute those they deem as having “deviant” opinions, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim said.
October 28, 2014
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 28 — After activist Ali Abd Jalil, Malaysia can expect more from its Malay-Muslim community to leave the country and seek refuge abroad if local Islamic authorities continue to prosecute those they deem as having “deviant” opinions, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim said.
The one-time de facto law minister said despite professing the religion of the federation, Malays in Malaysia do not enjoy complete freedom in how they practise their faith, as they are beholden to Islamic scholars even though they should only answer to God.
“We can expect more Malays to be prosecuted for saying or doing anything that can be perceived as menghina Islam,” Zaid wrote in a blog post titled “Save the Malays”.
“More and more will be forced to seek asylum in other countries to escape jail. The wealthy ones are already in London and Melbourne.”
Zaid pointed to the fatwa this year where Malays were put at risk of being labelled “deviant” for taking a view slightly liberal and more progressive than the country’s religious clerics, or ulama.
In its Friday sermon last week, the federal Islamic Development Department (Jakim) also warned Muslims nationwide against falling for the arguments put forth by the liberal proponents of their creed as the ideas they propagate deviate from the true teachings of Islam.
Zaid said those who have chosen to stay in Malaysia must continue the fight to assert Malaysia as a multi-racial country where other religions can be practised freely, as guaranteed by the Federal Constitution.
“Let’s point out to the authorities that even Muslims have rights, and that it’s not them we have to answer to, but God. They may accuse us as being kafir, munafik, jahil and much more, but let them — they are the ones who are misguided,” said Zaid.
“To the Malays who believe and support democracy and human rights, let us be brave even when we are labelled or accused of being deviant. If we do not want this country to be controlled by fascists, then we must be prepared to go to jail.”
Zaid also urged lawmakers from both sides of the political divide to rein in the powers of “despotic” scholars by amending laws such as the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act 1993.
“Fast-forward to the 21st-century Malaysia and we see a new breed of Islamic scholars ruling over Malays. They use Islam to control Malay minds and they are supported by leaders who are selfish to the core, being interested only in the Malay votes.
“As Muslim leaders, they should stop this senseless proliferation of fatwas — but they will not because Malays are dispensable, and their quest for power is not,” he claimed.