“Stop Bluffing”: Senior Malaysian Shia Figure to Minister

minister“Humbug!” That was the reaction of a local Shia leader to yesterday’s claim by a minister that the government was not preventing the practice of Shi’ism in the country.

Hussain Sajjad, secretary of the As-Sajjad Movement, said the latest statement on the issue by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Jamil Khir Baharom was in stark contradiction with what he said less than a month ago and belied the situation on the ground.

“On July 27, Jamil said that severe action would be taken against those found to be followers of Shia Islam,” said Hussain.

At a press conference yesterday, Jamil said Shia Muslims were allowed to practise but not preach their faith. He was explaining Putrajaya’s 2005 ratification of the Amman Messages, an international treaty opposing discrimination against Shia and other non-Sunni Muslims.

“It is not wrong for them to practise Shia Islam, just like it isn’t wrong for Malaysian Chinese to practise Buddhism,” Jamil told a press conference. “But they can’t spread the ideology to local Muslims, who are Sunnis.”

Hussain said Jamil’s statement did not reflect the standard practice of Malaysian religious authorities.

“How would Jamil explain the recent arrest of Dr Nur Azah Abdul Halim and Mohammad Ridzuan Yusof?” he said, referring to a raid in Kamunting on Aug 6 by the Perak Islamic Religious Department. Besides arresting the two persons, the raiders confiscated books, CD recordings and posters.

Hussain also referred to a December 2010 lightning raid on a Shia community centre in Gombak, in which officers from the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) arrested more than 200 people, including several foreigners.

“Those people were practising, not propagating, Shia Islam,” he said.

“In short, Jamil’s assurance does not hold water.”

Hussain alleged that the government had political reasons for persecuting Shia Muslims.

“The ruling coalition is playing the Sunni-Shia divide card so as to be seen as a champion of Islam. They do this in order to gain Malay support.”

Hussain also took a swipe at former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamed, saying he too had been contradicting himself when commenting on the issue.

“Dr Mahathir and Iran’s ex-president Seyyed Mohamed Khatami jointly appealed for Sunni and Shiite unity in May,” he said.

“Since then, Mahathir has changed his stand, claiming that the presence of Shia Muslims in the country would result in a Sunni-Shiite conflict


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