Malaysian NGOs seek action against Islamic preachers

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More than 70 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Malaysia have submitted a memorandum urging government action against Islamic preachers spreading hate speech and inciting religious discord against non-Muslims in the country.

Global Human Rights Federation (GHRF) along with 71 other organizations and concerned citizens slammed Malaysia’s Attorney General Ahmad Terrirudin Mohd Salleh on April 1, alleging double standards on the issue, the Dayak Daily reported.

In a press statement, GHRF president S. Shashi Kumar urged Terrirudin to act fairly and equitably without bias and favoritism.

GHRF deputy president Peter John Jaban and a delegation of some 250 individuals including representatives of NGOs from Sabah and Sarawak along with other Malaysians handed over the memorandum to the attorney general’s assistant.

Kumar accused Terrirudin of conducting hasty prosecution action against two Chinese individuals who were arrested, charged, and imprisoned simply for commenting on Facebook regarding the issue of printing the name ‘Allah’ on socks sold at KK Mart.

Pictures of socks with ‘Allah’ written on them went viral on social media last month, sparking public outrage among some Muslims who regarded them as insulting, especially because they went up for sale during the holy fasting month of Ramadan, AFP reported.

The mini-market chain’s executives were charged with hurting religious feelings over the sale of the socks while some of the outlets have faced attacks including people throwing incendiary substances causing damage.

Kumar alleged that no prosecution was conducted against Islamic preachers attacking non-Muslims even though thousands of police reports have been made, the Dayak Daily reported.

The actions of the Honorable Attorney General portray as if only those who are convicted of insulting Islam are punished and imprisoned while those who insult the religion and belief of the helpless non-Muslim minorities are allowed to enjoy legal immunity, Kumar said.

These controversial preachers or speakers continue to fan the flames of racism, he added.

Kumar pointed out that the Islamic preachers were turning their backs on the principles of Rukun Negara (national principles) and Articles 8 and 11 of the Malaysian constitution without any concern because no legal action would be taken against them.

Actions or inactions of the attorney general’s office would not only cause feelings of disappointment, but also result in a loss of trust, in the attorney general’s office as the guardian of the sovereignty of the federal constitution and law in Malaysia, Kumar added.

Meanwhile, Jaban shared a list of Islamic preachers who have allegedly insulted non-Muslim religious beliefs and practices to the Dayak Daily on request.

The list included Mohd Ridhuan Tee Abdullah, Firdaus Wong Wai Hung, Muhammad Zamri Vinoth Kalimuthu, Shakir Nasoha, as well as United Malays National Organisation (Umno) Youth chief Dr Muhamad Akmal Salleh, the Dayak Daily reported.

Islam is the official religion in Malaysia and Malay Muslims make up more than two-thirds of the population of 34 million.

Race and religion are thorny issues in Malaysia, which witnessed deadly racial riots in 1969.

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