Anwar : Jakim is not synonymous with Islam


Jakim sermons have on various occasions made unwarranted attacks, albeit in oblique fashion, on the opposition.

(Free Malaysia Today) – Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim has broken his silence on the arrest and remand of Lawyers for Liberty co-founder and executive director Eric Paulsen on a tweet which accused Jakim of promoting extremism through its Friday sermons at mosques.

Anwar himself has the Sword of Damocles hanging over him at the Federal Court on a sodomy charge which he says was politically-trumped up to silence him and end his struggle for political reform in the country.

The jury is still out on the arrest and remand of Paulsen, pointed out Anwar in a statement. To some, Eric Paulsen’s tweet may well have crossed the line and some may take offence. To some others, it might be taken as legitimate criticism.

“In any event, Jakim is not synonymous with Islam,” said Anwar. “As an agency under the Prime Minister’s Department made up of ordinary mortals, it is not infallible. To suggest that criticism directed at them constitutes an attack on Islam is the height of audacity and indeed an affront to Islam itself.”

Even if Paulsen had not tweeted about Jakim, said Anwar, the fact is that Muslims in this country know the worth of Friday sermons especially those delivered free of political slant and interference.

“But it is widely known that Jakim sermons have on various occasions made unwarranted attacks, albeit in oblique fashion, on the opposition and opposition leaders.”

Calling for moderation and mutual understanding among the communities and the diverse religious groups in the country has not been the practice of Jakim, he said. “But when it does do so, I have been among the first to commend it for doing the right thing – as I did on one occasion last year for an inspiring sermon on the need for the different communities to reach out and get to know one another.”

To say that Islam is not an extremist religion and in the same breath calling for “stern action” against Paulsen for his tweet is indeed a contradiction in terms, stressed Anwar. “Just declaring that ‘Islam is the most moderate religion’ is not good enough. We must walk the talk.”

Indeed as Friday sermons also deal with issues of society and humanity and if, as it is alleged by some, that Paulsen is not aware of this, said Anwar, then it is the duty of Muslims to enlighten him on the subject, not attempt to crucify him.

Paulsen’s arrest and remand, said Anwar, reflects the continuing trend in the country dominated by arbitrary arrests, selective prosecution and skewered court judgments “which offend our sense of dignity”.

“These violations should be seen as capital crimes against the people of a civilized state, one that prides itself with a constitution that guarantees our fundamental liberties to be safeguarded by the rule of law.”