Malaysiakini News

Amri Che Mat, Shias and national security in M'sia

Eric Paulsen  |  Published:  |  Modified:

COMMENT | Some 14 months after Amri Che Mat’s mysterious disappearance, his case appears no closer to being resolved. An ongoing inquiry by Suhakam has prompted a verbal back and forth between Norhayati Ariffin, the victim’s wife, and Perlis mufti, Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin, with the latter accusing Amri of propagating Shia Islam and therefore, being a threat to national security.

In a recent interview with Free Malaysia Today, the mufti brushed off Amri’s disappearance before slamming the spread of Shia teachings in Perlis and neighbouring Thailand.

Asri even made the incredible claim that Perlis Hope, the charity run by Amri was working towards establishing a theocracy. Quite how the mufti made the leap from being a Shia to establishing a theocracy in Malaysia is never explained.

However, such an exaggerated claim on the dangers of Shia and other activities perceived to be a threat to Islam (in particular, proselytisation of other faiths to Muslims), and by extension "national security," reflects the sinister implications that can be derived from the authorities’ lackadaisical attitude in investigating Amri’s disappearance and other similar cases, namely, pastor Joshua Hilmi and his wife Ruth Hilmi, and pastor Raymond Koh (photo).

People in this day and age simply should not vanish into thin air without a trace, and the nonchalance displayed by the police force in investigating these cases is extremely worrying.

That eyewitness reports and in the case of Pastor Raymond Koh, irrefutable CCTV evidence, indicate professionals with the assets and training to abduct people without fear of being traced should concern all Malaysians.

Upon reflection, the mufti’s view, unfortunately, is largely reflective of the Malaysian authorities’ harsh attitude towards Shia Islam, and this has led to dire consequences for its believers in Malaysia.

Shia deviants

In Malaysia, Shia Islam is deemed as "deviant" from mainstream Islam (only the official variant of Shafie school of Sunni Islam) by the federal and state religious authorities, and this is reflected in the religious laws, fatwas, publications and sermons.

Under Article 11(4) of the Federal Constitution, in respect of Islam, laws may be passed to control or restrict the propagation of any religious doctrine among Muslims. By virtue of a 1996 fatwa by the National Fatwa Council, Shia teachings are declared to be haram...

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