Stop bluffing, Syiah man tells Jamil Khir

The As-Sajjad Movement says the government’s assurance of toleration does not reflect the situation on the ground.

K Pragalath, FMT

“Humbug!” That was the reaction of a local Syiah leader to yesterday’s claim by a minister that the government was not preventing the practice of Shi’ism in the country.

Husin Sajjad, secretary of the As-Sajjad Movement, said the latest statement on the issue by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Jamil Khir Baharom was in stark contradiction with what he said less than a month ago and belied the situation on the ground.

“On July 27, Jamil said that severe action would be taken against those found to be followers of Syiah Islam,” Husin told FMT.

At a press conference yesterday, Jamil said Syiah Muslims were allowed to practise but not preach their faith. He was explaining Putrajaya’s 2005 ratification of the Amman Messages, an international treaty opposing discrimination against Syiah and other non-Sunni Muslims.

“It is not wrong for them to practise Syiah Islam, just like it isn’t wrong for Malaysian Chinese to practise Buddhism,” Jamil told a press conference. “But they can’t spread the ideology to local Muslims, who are Sunnis.”

Husin said Jamil’s statement did not reflect the standard practice of Malaysian religious authorities.

“How would Jamil explain the recent arrest of Dr Nur Azah Abdul Halim and Mohammad Ridzuan Yusof?” he said, referring to a raid in Kamunting on Aug 6 by the Perak Islamic Religious Department. Besides arresting the two persons, the raiders confiscated books, CD recordings and posters.

Husin also referred to a December 2010 lightning raid on a Syiah community centre in Gombak, in which officers from the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) arrested more than 200 people, including several foreigners.

“Those people were practising, not propagating, Syiah Islam,” he said.

“In short, Jamil’s assurance does not hold water.”

Husin alleged that the government had political reasons for persecuting Syiah Muslims.