States need not follow the Constitution regarding freedom of religion, says Mujahid

(FMT) – Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mujahid Yusof Rawa today said citizens are free to practise their religious beliefs as enshrined in the Federal Constitution, adding however that the recent raids against Shia Muslims in Selangor fall under state jurisdiction.

“I would like to guarantee that in the Federal Constitution, Article 3 states that Islam is the religion of the federation and other religions can be freely practised.

“Article 11 speaks about freedom, even though there are limitations under Clause 4. These are the parameters that we use to ensure that we do not encroach on the right to freedom.”

The minister in charge of religious affairs added however that state authorities have standard operating procedures (SOP) in certain situations which would justify certain actions.

He was referring to the crackdown on Shia Muslims in Selangor, which saw state Islamic authorities raiding at least three private functions to commemorate the Ashura, the death anniversary of Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad and a central figure in Shia Islam.

Selangor Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari later said firm action would be taken against them if they contravene state Islamic laws.

Mujahid said while the principles of the Federal Constitution should be upheld, his department is looking into balancing freedom of religion with the SOP of state Islamic authorities.

“The issue is under the powers of the state government,” he said.

“We have already received feedback from the menteri besar in a meeting with the National Council of Islamic Affairs of Malaysia.

“We will look into how far this issue can be viewed in a larger framework so that we maintain whatever is underlined in the constitution relating to freedom while at the same time having Islam as the religion of the federation. We are finding the balance between that.”

He reiterated that the raids in Selangor were under the jurisdiction of the (Pakatan Harapan) state government.

“So we respect their decision.”