Ex-PM cautions against turning Islam into ‘police state religion’

mahathir calm cautious

By Yuen Mei Keng, The Star

Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (pic) cautioned against turning Islam into a “police state religion”.

There is a need to educate Muslims about the values they should uphold, he suggested, commenting on the reported plan to set up a police unit to enforce laws on Islamic criminal offences.

Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) director-general Datuk Othman Mustafa had reportedly said that the unit would be tasked with enforcing all Syariah criminal offences.

Creating such a unit, which will be based at Jakim, will not solve problems faced by Muslims, said Dr Mahathir.

“I pray, fast, give alms and perform the haj, not because the police will catch me if I don’t.

“I say the syahadah not because I am afraid I will get caught. I fulfil what is required of myself because I am a Muslim and because of my faith,” he said in his blog post at chedet.cc yesterday.

Dr Mahathir said that the proposal needed to be studied thoroughly, adding that Islamic laws were differently enforced in various states.

“Hence, people who go to other states (from their own) may encounter different practices.

“Some police officers may not be well-versed in Islam. Even among the ulama, there are differing views,” he said.

“In one state, women may have to be separated from men in the market. But there are some women who go shopping with their husbands. Must they be separated then?

“In other states, wearing a headscarf for women is compulsory. Pants may be considered too tight but the question is how do you determine what is too tight?” Dr Mahathir questioned.

He said that the police officers may have their own views and that some orthodox officers were stricter than others.

“Our country has many tourists who dress in all kinds of clothing. It is likely the police will question whether they are Muslim or not.

“If they are Muslim, they may be dragged to the Islamic police department, while non-Muslim tourists will feel uneasy being questioned by the police,” he added.

Dr Mahathir said that non-Muslims in the country may be pressured to follow Islamic rulings and this may lead to religious tension between Muslims and non-Muslims.