Malaysian government to monitor ‘deviant’ Muslim liberals
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Malaysian government to monitor ‘deviant’ Muslim liberals

THE Malaysian government is cracking down on “liberal Muslims” in the country, stepping up the monitoring of those deemed to have deviated from the Islamic faith.

Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom, a minister in charge of Islamic affairs, said the government was also looking into censoring publications by so-called liberals, whether in print or on the Internet.

Reiterating the government’s stance against liberalism since 2006, Jamil said this was part of the government’s efforts to bring the deviants back to traditional religious teachings.

The decade-old declaration was made by National Fatwa Council, the federal oversight body responsible for issuing religious advice to the Muslim public.

According to The Star, Jamil said the liberal movements’ interpretations of the religion deviated from the faith and its Syariah laws.

“Among these beliefs are holding on to the concept of pluralism, believing that the human mind is a revelation, doubting the authenticity of the Quran, questioning the interpretation of the Quran and Hadith, pushing for new interpretations on the concept of worship, questioning prophetic morals and having their own methods of referring to Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) punishment,”

Jamil said this in parliament on Thursday.

The minister said the crackdown would be a joint effort between various religious authorities, including the federal-run Islamic Development Department and state Islamic Affairs departments.

Fatwas, Jamil said, would be issued to contain the spread of the deviant teachings. However, Jamil suggested the crackdown would take a softer approach by holding talks and seminars with the groups.

“We will continue monitoring program on groups that have deviant beliefs and censor their publications on print and electronic media.

“Religious and enforcement authorities will also increase their cooperation against those with beliefs that are reported to be deviant,” he said.

The announcement appears to run contrary to Prime Minister Najib Razak’s push for the country to be seen as a moderate Muslim nation.

Jamil’s remarks also earned brickbats from a former law minister who defected to the opposition, Zaid Ibrahim, who called for Jamil’s arrest for endangering the country’s democratic principles.

Zaid said Jamil had only encouraged persecution against citizens for merely having different views, and this violated the country’s highest laws.

“As a Cabinet minister, he should know that this is a democratic country which means we have to respect the basic rights of the people. Just because he is not a liberal he can’t arrest me because I am a liberal.

“That is a violation of people’s basic rights,” Zaid was reported saying in The Malay Mail Online.