Yusri Mohamad, a product of the International Islamic University, ABIM and Pembela, and onetime personal aid to PKR President Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, claims that Islam is under attack. And should we be surprised when Muslims make a mockery of Islam? Anyway, this “Islam under attack” is all in the narrow minds of Muslims.
THE CORRIDORS OF POWER
Raja Petra Kamarudin
Islam's position under siege in M'sia, warns Pembela
(Malaysiakini) - The Coalition of Muslim Organisations (Pembela) has claimed that the position of Islam in Malaysia is under siege.
Speaking to reporters today, spokesperson Yusri Mohamad said this is particularly in relation to recent developments in Islam-Christian affairs.
Specifically, he cited the designation of a non-Muslim affairs exco in Penang and the 'pseudo-appointment' of Christian Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Idris Jala to handle issues pertaining the Malay-language Bible as threatening Islam's position as the official religion.
He claimed there is no provision in the federal constitution for any official non-Muslim affairs body, and that making Idris the go-to minister for Christian affairs is thus unconstitutional.
"There is a (threat). These sorts of threats come in seasons but now have become more serious and are putting a lot of pressure on the way we deal with issues pertaining to Islam,” he said.
"Islam is the official religion and is a pillar of our nation, but attempts are being made to make its position equal to other religions.
"Followers of other religions are portrayed as marginalised and oppressed... Islam and Muslims are dressed in an ugly mask and is made to seem guilty so that they give in (to demands)."
The fact that Idris was appointed to handle the Al Kitab issue was also wrong, he said, since Idris cannot be said to be non-partisan because he is Christian.
"He says he is non-partisan politically but this is a religious issue, and he is partisan. As we understand it, the (10-point proposal) was produced without consultation with the Fatwa Council, religious scholars and Muslim NGOs," he said.
Instead, he said the matter should have been handled by two ministers in the Prime Minister's Department - Jamil Khir Baharom who is in charge of Islamic affairs, and Koh Tsu Koon who is in charge of national harmony.
"We feel that the government can act within their powers...but Christian groups are now using terms like 'deface' and 'desecration' which is pushing the issue ... out of hand," he said.
As such, Pembela, a coalition of about 80 NGOs, will be hosting a conference on Saturday to discuss the issue of the sovereignty of Islam in Malaysia.
Themed 'Islam under siege: What will we do?', the event will be open to all Muslim NGOs and will feature a forum on the topic.
Among the topics to be discussed are the Al Kitab, conversions to Islam, religious freedom and the way such matters are handled by the government.
"We hope to then take the outcome of our discussion to the cabinet, prime minister, Rulers Council, political parties and mufti," he said.
Pembela not 'extremist'
Commenting on a police report recently lodged by a Christian against Pembela, Yusri said said the coalition is not an extremist group as perceived.
"We feel that the police report was a way to blow up the issue. Pembela has been around for a while and anyone who does a background check will find that we are not an extremist group," he said.
Pembela has never officially said it is willing to 'shed blood against Christians', as stated in the police report, he said.
"But perhaps during the peaceful demonstrations there were harsh words said, which is normal in a demonstration. You can't expect us to berbalas pantun.
"It is wrong to say that our movement is a threat to our non-Muslim friends," he said.
He added that police had contacted Pembela a week after the report to ask for recordings and materials distributed during the demonstration in March to assist in their investigation.
"No member (has been) called for questioning," he added.