Mustafa Akyol’s detention: Is Jawi acting as thought police over universities?

5
401
Mustafa Akyol - Photograph: Malay Mail Online

In great distress, Gabungan Bertindak Malaysia asks if state religious authorities have now acquired the power of thought police to investigate and prosecute Muslim academics who speak intellectually on religion for “teaching religion without appropriate credentials”, a Sharia offence that is normally reserved for unauthorised preachers in mosques.

World-renowned Turkish academic-cum-journalist Mustafa Akyol and incidentally author of Islam Without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty, which was translated by the Islamic Renaissance Front in 2015 as Islam Tanpa Keekstreman and launched by Mustafa Akyol himself, was detained at airport for 17 hours on 25 September 2017 for his cancelled talk in Nottingham University Malaysia titled “The Islamic Jesus: The commonalities between Judaism, Christian and Islam”.

Do universities and research institutions now need to seek clearance from state religious authorities before having any Muslim speakers on topics involving religion?

In a “rule-by-law” manner, the warrant obtained by the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Affairs Department (Jawi) to detain Akyol was given by the Federal Territory Sharia Court under Section 11 of the Sharia Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act.

This latest alarming episode contrasts strongly with the officially-sanctioned “comparative religion” programmes earlier this year where fugitive Indian preacher Zakir Naik was free to belittle other faiths. It is however consistent with the banning of academic books like A History of God” by Karen Armstrong, who is widely respected by Muslims for her empathetic views on Islam.

It is obvious that comparative religion perspectives that seek commonalities and peaceful co-existence between Islam and other faiths is seen as a threat to some parties.

READ MORE:  Isn’t ICERD part of the Islamic narrative?

If such closing of the Muslim minds continues, intolerance towards views disapproved by the authorities will graduate from intellectual policing by the state to extremism and radicalisation in society, tearing apart our social fabric with sectarian supremacy, segregation and distrust both within Islam and between Islam and other faiths.

This will undo not just the Malaysian government’s international public relations campaign called “moderate movement”, but the very idea of Malaysia as a diverse and inclusive nation-state.

Akyol is free now, but Malaysian Muslim academics and intellectuals are not free to speak on religion and comparative religion even in universities. Malaysians need to think hard where this country is going, having just celebrated its 54th birthday.

GBM stands in solidarity with Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF), one of our 28 organisations, which hosted Akyol. Its executive director Dr Farouk Musa is also harassed by Jawi over Akyol’s talk. Dr Farouk Musa and IRF have been relentlessly promoting intellectual discourses on Islam. We are sure that their efforts to strengthen both Malaysia and Islam will not be in vain despite non-stop malicious attacks by certain forces.

Endorsed by the following member organisations of GBM:

  1. Engage 愿景工程组织
  2. Japan Graduates Association, Malaysia (Jagam) 马来西亚留日同学会
  3. Kumpulan Aktivis Mahasiswa Independen (Kami) 独立学生份子组织
  4. Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH) 隆雪华堂
  5. LLG Cultural Development Centre (LLG) 林连玉基金
  6. Merdeka University Berhad (MUB) 独立大学有限公司
  7. Muslim Professionals Forum (MPF) 穆斯林人士专业论坛
  8. Persatuan Aliran Kesedaran Negara (Aliran) 国民醒觉运动
  9. Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor dan Wilayah Persekutuan (Permas) 雪隆社区协会
  10. Pusat Komas 社区传播中心
  11. Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM) 马来西亚之子
  12. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) 人民之声
  13. United Chinese School Alumni Associations of Malaysia (UCSAAM) 马来西亚华校校友会联合会总会
  14. Tamil Foundation (TF) 淡米尔基金会
  15. Tindak Malaysia (TM) 行动大马组织
Thanks for dropping by! Apart from the views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed, the opinions in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

Our voluntary writers work hard to keep these articles free for all to read. But we do need funds to support our struggle for Justice, Freedom and Solidarity. To maintain our editorial independence, we do not carry any advertisements; nor do we accept funding from dubious sources. If everyone reading this was to make a donation, our fundraising target for the year would be achieved within a week. So please consider making a donation of whatever amount you can afford to sustain Aliran. Please make payments to Persatuan Aliran Kesedaran Negara, CIMB Bank account number 8004240948.

And why not become an Aliran member or subscribe to our FREE newsletters.

5
Join the conversation

avatar
750
5 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
4 Comment authors
Walter GomezLim Oon TinLau ChengkeatAlang Ahmad Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Walter Gomez
Walter Gomez

I recently attended for the first time an interfaith lecture over 3 days. Being a member of the Catholic religion and having very specific doctrines and beliefs in accordance with the Catholic faith yet I found the lecture very enlightening and renewed my belief that there is but One God who has revealed himself to His creation at different times and in different ways. No belief system can claim monopoly over God!!

Lim Oon Tin

… (JAKIM) IS TAKING OVER FROM THE PRESENT BN GOVERNMENT.
LATEST POWER TO RECKON WITH! !
WITH BN GIVING THEM POWER !!
WILL INTIMIDATED
ALL MUSLIMS AND EVENTUALLY NON MUSLIMS AS WELL!!??
MALAYSIA A MODERATE MUSLIM COUNTRY ?????
AND IN THIS CASE VIOLATES HUMAN RIGHTS . AND DEMOCRACY !!!!!
IT IS A KLEPTOCRATIC
AND DICTATORSHIP ?????

Lau Chengkeat

……CE, immigration etc, everything becomes rojak and the laughing stock world wide!

Lau Chengkeat

If we mix religion with politics, poli

Alang Ahmad

“Kita mesti pantau pensyarah-pensyarah kita yg menghasut pelajar dgn sentimen anti-kerajaan”