LETTER | We, G25, are deeply touched by Aisyah Osman’s vigorous defence of freedom of speech, where she stated that whether one is Islamist or secular, it is a fundamental right in a democracy that must be respected to the fullest extent by everyone.
Bravo! Aisyah also represents Young Professionals, a group founded by dissenting lawyers whose goals, according to their profile, appears to preserve, protect and defend the Federal Constitution.
We wish to ask Aisyah to explain why Institut Kajian Strategik Islam Malaysia (Iksim) lodged a police report against Prof Shad Saleem Faruqi on his article in The Star on Nov 23, 2017, on religious radicalism on the rise.
Why did the Federal Territory Islamic Affairs Department (Jawi) instigate the arrest and detention of prominent Turkish academician and author Mustafa Akyol, who came to Malaysia at the invitation of the Islamic Renaissance Front to participate in a forum and to deliver talks on his thoughts on Islam based on the book that he recently published?
G25 too does not believe in resorting to police reports to stop the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) or Iksim from branding those who propound that the character of the Federal Constitution makes this country a secular state as enemies of Islam and disloyal citizens of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. These are serious allegations.
Even in a vibrant democracy, like the United States of America, it is seditious to accuse other citizens as traitors and enemies of the state and one can make a police complaint on such an allegation.
On the flip side, the director of Iksim, in giving a talk in Kedah on its DIAN initiative, called on the audience in the hall to lodge police reports all over the state whenever anyone among the “liberals” describes Malaysia as a secular state. In fact, according to the Iksim officials, being a liberal itself is a big threat to Islam and the country.
We, G25, call upon the religious authorities not to harass and threaten those who have different opinions on matters relating to the administration of Islam and its place in the Federal Constitution. Such actions threaten our democracy, which has made our beloved country one of the most successful in the Muslim world.
Aisyah Osman should direct her lecture on freedom of speech and democracy to all the religious bodies and their ideological controllers because, by their recent actions, both foreign and local scholars are becoming concerned, whether they still have the freedom to speak in open forums on religion and its role in making policies affecting our democratic rights.
Religious institutions and officials are the ones that have pushed their Islamist Agenda leading to laws that have trespassed into areas that are under the purview of the Malay Rulers, as clearly spelt out in the Federal Constitution. They are the ones who, in their exuberance in pushing their agenda, are undermining democracy and the rights of citizens to practise their fundamental rights as enshrined in the Federal Constitution.
Aisyah has conveniently ignored these acts by the religious authorities that, time and again, have shown their inclination towards extremism and intolerance. On the contrary, it is G25 that is fully committed to moderation and tolerance, which are so crucial to maintaining peace and harmony among Muslims and non-Muslims in this country.
It is the G25 that is consistently championing the upholding of the Federal Constitution and the rights of the Malay Rulers.
This letter is from the Secretariat of G25, an organisation of retired top Malay civil servants