Last Saturday's forum in Subang Jaya, on the topic 'Islamic state: Which version? Whose responsibility?', was jointly organised by the Oriental Hearts and Minds Study Institute and Islamic Renaissance Front.
At the forum, Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar had said that there was "no compulsion in religion" when responding to a question from a member of the audience on whether religious freedom also applied to Malays.
This was reported by Malaysiakini under the headline, 'Nurul: There should be no compulsion in choosing faith.'
Nurul Izzah had also said, in her reply to the question, that she was "tied to the prevailing views" in the country.
On Monday, Utusan Malaysia attacked Nurul Izzah for her comments at the forum in a report on its front page, and quoted the Malaysiakini report in the article headlined ‘Melayu perlu bebas pilih agama?' (Should Malays be free to choose religion?).
Subsequently, Nurul Izzah was accused of advocating apostasy among Muslims - a claim she has vehemently denied and has threatened law suits against both Utusan Malaysia and Berita Harian.
Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who also stepped into the row through a Bernama report yesterday, questioned why the Lembah Pantai MP was suing the two dailies, but not Malaysiakini.
Here, Malaysiakini produces the transcript of the event, during the period Nurul Izzah responded to questions from the floor.
She took the questions ahead of other speakers because she had to leave early.
Question 1: It's heartening to know that you just cannot coerce someone into believing your beliefs, right? On any matter.
Now, I do want to ask a very controversial question, so what then the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community) here or the sexual minority here?
I'd like your views on that because there are people who feel that just by being able to love the same sex goes against their religion or beliefs, but we don't believe that.
Our own beliefs are such that we are answerable to God, yes, but let us be answerable to God. Thanks.
Moderator: YB Nurul can you... all right, we'll have one more, just one more question, then she'll answer both then take leave. Yes.
Question 2: I'm very happy to hear YB Nurul speak about freedom of religion. Does she actually apply that to Malays as well in terms of freedom of religion? That is number one.
Number two, I think it is a fallacy to believe that Egypt now is (in) a better condition than it was before. Everybody knows that it is getting worse.
I have a friend in Egypt and she is really not happy about what is going on over there, so I do believe YB is trying to promote the idea of an Islamic state, like you know this which is completely not true.
But mainly my question is, when you speak of freedom of religion, are you actually applying to the Malays as well? Thanks.
Moderator: Well YB Nurul, that's a good way to start the morning.
The audience laughs.
Moderator: You have two questions of great import at two ends of the spectrum. Could you try to answer that, please.
Nurul Izzah: Thank you, Cyrus, I love too.
The audience laughs.
Nurul Izzah: Okay, so the first question. In terms of the sexual rights of LGBT, Tariq Ramadan addressed this question when IRF organised his programme, I think about three months back and I think, of course, you're not just talking about Islam.
There are limitations and you know, implemented in Christianity with regards to people of - you know - LGBT, but one thing is important is you should not victimise anyone.
You should not also implement and you know, ensure the laws of the land encroach into private... uh.. into public space.
I think that is the main underlying principle. But if you ask me whether, as a Muslim, I can accept, I think yes, you or whoever that, besides their particular sexual orientation.
Yes, in private you cannot enforce them certain regulation, etcetera. But as a Muslim, I also cannot accept and that is regulation of my faith and as well as my friends who are Catholic, etcetera.
I think here you want to make sure that they are not victimised, the current practise, whether how, through the Borders (bookstore) ... sort of, err, how Jawi or Jakim at that time went to the Borders, some books etcetera, so the way it is practised does not respect and does not give any meaning for the sanctity of Islam, or any religion for that matter.
You must always use hikmah, so yes, I will say here, we have limitation, but certainly it should not be encroached into public space.
The second question with regards (to) what you think I'm trying to promote, I would correct that assumption. Yes, Egypt is undergoing a tumultuous process. It has not been resolved, there are many challenges they face.
I am not saying they have achieved a Utopian ideal view of a state and how it should be governed but I always take the development of the Muslim Brotherhood, in particular, from seen as a rather dogmatic Islamic movement come up with a political entity to meet the needs of the time and their relationship and collaboration with the Christian Coptic is something in particular that we have to observe and appreciate.
So if you say things are bad for Egypt, no. You, and we, must not be so judgmental and that is partly the society or the country that we have inherited that allows us to see things in black and white, whereas sometimes it is not as simple as that.
Sometimes in a stormy period, it is important for them to undergo and hopefully, because we wish for the best. We wish that they will have wisdom and finally manage the governance of the country itself.
The bell rings.
Nurul Izzah: Okay, one more minute.
The audience laughs.
Nurul Izzah: Yes, umm, but the idea itself, I think, goes back. And when you ask me, there is no compulsion in religion, even Dr (Ahmad) Farouk (Musa) quoted that verse in the Quran.
How can you ask me or anyone, how can anyone really say, 'Sorry, this only apply to non-Malays.' It has to apply equally.
The audience applauds.
Nurul Izzah: In the Quran, there is no specific terms for the Malays. This is how it should be done. So I am tied, of course, to the prevailing views but I would say that.
So what you want is of course in terms of quality. You believe so strongly in your faith, that even me, being schooled in Assunta with a huge cross in the hall and an active singing Catholic society will not deter you.
The bell rings and the moderator thanks the speaker.
The audience applauds.
Audio transcript l 6.53 mins
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