‘I am disappointed with Nurul’

The lawyer who posed the sensitive question on religious freedom is disappointed that the PKR leader has changed her stand. 

Leven Woon, FMT

A lawyer who posed the question on religious freedom to PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar during a forum last Saturday is disappointed with the politicians 180 degree turn.

Siti Kasim, a member of the Bar Council human rights committee, said she was disappointed that Nurul had “retracted” her remark.

“I believe Nurul was just trying to impress the people, she didn’t think of the consequences,” she told FMT.

Siti said Nurul should have stood firm on her remark that freedom of religion was a right for all including the Malay-Muslim.

“There’s nothing wrong about it, she is saying the truth. I expected a hoo-ha after that. But as a politician, you just need to stick to the truth,” she added.

She wondered if Nurul was merely adjusting herself to the largely non-Muslim audience on that day and making a political remark.

At the forum titled “Islamic state: Which vision? Whose responsibility?”, Siti asked Nurul whether freedom of religion should be extended to the Malays since the PKR leader talked about the issue in her speech.

Siti said while Nurul did not mention about apostasy in her response, the latter however was a clear supporter of freedom of religion for the Malays.

“In the following days she ‘retracted’ her remark, and said she did not support apostasy. But indirectly when you say you support freedom of religion, and if Malay wants to get out from Islam, that’s apostasy,” she pointed out.

The Orang Asli rights advocate said she once posed the same question to Nurul’s father, Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, but failed to get a direct response.

“He was going around the bush and didn’t answer directly. We want politicians to be straight forward,” she said.

Meanwhile, Siti said it was high time for the issue to be debated as the Federal Constitution did not exclude the Malays from their right to freedom of religion.

She said the individuals who criticised Nurul were the conservatives who insisted that their version of religion was the correct one.