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LETTER | Unfair treatment of Kuru was uncalled for

LETTER | We are deeply saddened by the trials and tribulations that Dr Ahmet T Kuru had to go through during his five-day stay in Kuala Lumpur recently.

The political scientist from San Diego State University, USA, came to Malaysia to launch the Malay translation of his book “Islam, Authoritarianism, and Underdevelopment: A Global and Historical Comparison” published by the Islamic Renaissance Front.

Not only are we deeply disappointed that the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) retracted the approval for the book launch at their centre at the last minute, but we are also shocked that Kuru’s presence was questioned by the Malaysian authorities after his talk at the International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM) on Tuesday afternoon.

This disturbing episode led him to cancel his interview at BFM 89.9 together with other public engagements before flying off to Lahore, Pakistan yesterday for a series of talks over there.

However, his ordeal did not end after his talk at IIUM. In a text message sent from KLIA, Kuru alleged that five persons who claimed to be police officers waited for him at the airport and tried to confiscate his passport at the departure gate.

Apparently, these individuals claimed that the Turkish Embassy wanted him arrested as a terrorist.

This disturbing event outlined by Kuru leads us to suspect that something may be wrong.

Bad memories

After the questioning by the authorities at IIUM, we contacted the prime minister's adviser, who - together with his colleagues - had assured Kuru of his safe departure from Malaysian soil.

Why the five individuals acted as they did at KLIA is perplexing. Are there any deep state actors trying to besmirch the Madani government’s reputation?

Whatever we can surmise at this point, is that these episodes have left our guest with unpleasant memories of our country.

First, the memory of the attempted stifling of intellectual discourse and second, the unpleasant memory of being treated like a persona non grata, a common criminal!

We at the Islamic Renaissance Front vehemently condemn these actions in creating an unnecessary atmosphere of insecurity and consternation for our respected guest who is a renowned academic. Kuru has given talks in numerous centres of learning around the world without any untoward incidents.

This episode reminds us of Mustafa Akyol, another guest of Malaysia who was detained by the religious police some time ago, a major blunder that brought shame to the Malaysian government at that time.

The Madani government which is supposedly known for its progressive agenda must ensure that Malaysians rise above petty politics that involve the muzzling of Muslim intellectuals and stifling of intellectual discourse, not to mention intimidation allegedly at the behest of a foreign embassy.

This attitude can only stain Malaysia’s reputation and standing in the global arena.

AHMAD FAROUK MUSA is the founder and director of the Islamic Renaissance Front.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.