SUARAM Condemns JAIS Raid


By Suaram

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) condemns the raid at a church by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (JAIS) on the 3rd of August 2011. 30 police officers and religious authorities raided a multi-racial dinner and without presenting a warrant entered the Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC) over an unspecified complaint.

The multi-racial dinner was organized by the non-profit organization Harapan Komuniti to help women, children, HIV/AIDs sufferers and victims of natural disasters. 12 Muslims were present at the dinner. The dinner was held in the compound of the church but JAIS went inside the church and searched the DUMC’s premises. The dinner organizers were subjected to questioning and the function’s programme sheets were seized by the authorities.

SUARAM condemns the raid by JAIS as the guests and organizers who went to the dinner in good faith were intimidated by the authoritarian manner of the raid. Although no arrests were made, the fact that the event was unceremoniously interrupted by JAIS and that guests were subjected to questioning was intimidating for the guests. We also believe that this is an infringement of the freedom to assemble and associate peacefully as enshrined under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution.

While we welcome the expression of regret over the raid by the Menteri Besar of Selangor, Khalid Ibrahim, we demand a full report and justification from JAIS, which is under the purview of the Selangor State Government. We would like to ascertain the legal basis of the raid from JAIS. We believe that since no warrant was presented to the parties, JAIS acted arbitrarily and without due process.

As Selangor exco member in charge of Islamic affairs Hassan Ali has claimed that there was evidence of proselytisation, we would like to see evidence from the JAIS report on this claim. We demand that JAIS discloses the complaint made on the multi-racial dinner to demonstrate that JAIS did not conduct the raid on an arbitrary basis.

Although Prime Minister Najib Razak’s visit to Vatican City tried to placate interreligious tensions, trends have shown that religious tensions are still high in Malaysia. The severed cow head incident in Selangor, the banning of the usage of the word of “Allah” by Christians by the Home Ministry, the controversial demolishing of Hindu temples, the temporary seizure of Malay-language Bibles by the Home Ministry have all served to contribute to interreligious tensions.

SUARAM believes that the recent raid by JAIS at DUMC will only serve to destroy harmonious co-existence among our different peoples. We urge the Selangor State Government to respect the freedom of religion and the rights of religious groups to manage their affairs.