Hasan Ali says ready to face axe

By Boo Su-Lyn, The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 7 — Datuk Hasan Ali said he was willing to be sacked as a Selangor executive councillor for the sake of defending Islam, before facing the PAS central working committee today to explain his defence of a controversial church raid.

Mingguan Malaysia, the Sunday edition of Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia, reported the senior PAS member’s remarks on its front page today with the headline, “Saya rela dipecat” (I’m willing to be sacked).

“I’m willing to do anything, including accepting the reality of being asked to resign as state executive councillor and whatever other positions I hold, for the sake of fighting for what I believe will help the Muslims, especially in Selangor,” Hasan was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

“If anyone believes in religious harmony, then the sanctity of Islam cannot be violated at all. This is what I am fighting for. Is that wrong?” asked the Selangor executive councillor in charge of Islamic affairs.

Hasan broke ranks with the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) pact when he backed the Selangor Islamic Religious Department’s (Jais) raid last Wednesday on a multi-racial dinner at the Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC) in Petaling Jaya.

He said on Thursday that the words “Quran” and “pray” were used in the presence of Muslims at the dinner function, claiming that this was part of the authorities’ evidence of Christians proselytising to Muslims.

Selangor’s Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Amongst Muslims) Enactment (1988), which outlines offences deemed as acts of proselytisation by non-Muslims towards Muslims, grants the religious authorities powers to launch investigations and arrest individuals without producing a warrant.

Hasan’s defence of Jais came just after Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim expressed regret over the incident.

Widely seen as a religious conservative, Hasan has been at odds with the state government’s seemingly liberal policies on several occasions, most notably his push for a beer sale ban in the country’s most-developed state earlier this year.

Hasan had lost badly in the recent PAS election as the Islamist party moved to embrace leaders like Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad, who is seen to represent a more progressive and inclusive brand of Islam.

Dropped as PAS Selangor chief after the party polls, Hasan’s defence has been seen to renew his tendency to mirror rival Malay party Umno’s thinking.

“Towards the end of the event, the enforcement team and the police had made checks and found attempts to prevent their examination and to get rid of the evidence material,” the PAS man has said.

He said the authorities had discovered further materials to prove there were attempts to proselytise a religion other than Islam to Muslims, but did not disclose what these were.