Nurul Izzah to tell JAIS apostasy row is Utusan’s fault

Mohd Farhan, Darwis, The Malaysian Insider

Nurul Izzah Anwar, who has been accused by Umno of supporting apostasy for Muslims, will meet Selangor religious officials tomorrow to explain to them that she has been the victim of slander by Utusan Malaysia, the newspaper owned by the Barisan Nasional (BN) party.

The PKR vice-president’s statement, at a public forum on “Islamic State: Which version, whose responsibility?” in Subang Jaya last Saturday, has resulted in attacks from several religious hawks and Umno politicians suggesting that her remarks meant she supported Muslims renouncing Islam and turning “murtad” or apostate.

“I will go to JAIS office at 11am tomorrow to lodge a complaint against Utusan Malaysia for their slander against me,” Nurul Izzah (picture) told the media in the Parliament lobby today, referring to the Selangor Islamic Religious Department.

Yesterday, popular Islamic scholar Datuk Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin defended her, and pointed out that her remarks that Malays also have freedom of religion meant there was no compulsion in Islam.

Mohd Asri was also reported as saying that Nurul Izzah’s initial remark could have been misconstrued because it was not explained in detail.

He said the first-term federal lawmaker had contacted him to help explain to the public her statement and that he agreed with her remarks that there was no compulsion in Islam.

In Parliament yesterday, deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Dr Mashitah Ibrahim said that legal action may be taken against Nurul Izzah.

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad also joined Muslim conservatives in dismissing the view that there is no compulsion in Islam, telling those professing the faith not to get too “carried away by western ideals”.

Earlier this week, Nurul Izzah said she will take legal action against Umno-owned dailies Utusan Malaysia and Berita Harian for allegedly twisting her statement in a recent forum.

She has reportedly denied that she is supporting apostasy among the country’s Malay-Muslim community.

Race and religion issues are inseparable in Malaysia, where the Malays — who make up 60 per cent of the 28 million population — are constitutionally defined to also be Muslims.