The contentious portions of The Star’s recent interview with de facto Islamic Affairs Minister Mujahid Yusof Rawa were not attributed to him, the daily clarified on its website today.
This followed a 24-hour ultimatum by Mujahid’s press secretary Siti Zulaikha Zulkifli last night demanding that the paper apologise over its report, particularly the minister’s purported comments about khalwat (close proximity) raids by religious authorities.
“We would like to clarify that the paragraph was not attributed to Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Mujahid Yusof Rawa and not his quote.
“It was based on a reply to a question: ‘Let's say someone commits adultery behind closed doors, which is khalwat. Now your officers can break down the door and arrest them. Will this change?’
“For the record, the minister replied: ‘I would advise all agencies under me, especially the enforcement officers, to not interfere with the personal sphere.
"‘This issue of enforcement of what you call khalwat has been misused – not all of it, but there have been times where it has been exploited and misused.
"‘The enforcement of khalwat falls within the state judiciary and is not exactly under my jurisdiction, but we can have a platform where we meet all state directors of departments of Islamic affairs and share the concerns of the federal government on these issues.’
“We regret the confusion which had arisen from the said report,” the daily said.
Malaysiakini has contacted Mujahid’s office for comment about The Star’s clarification.
Yesterday, Zulaikha took issue with the headline of The Star’s report that was published on Saturday, as well as the first paragraph of the report.
The first paragraph reads: “No more knocks on the door in the middle of the night and no more breaking down of doors by the religious authorities investigating reports of khalwat or other alleged wrongdoings.”
Zulaikha said Mujahid had never uttered these words and these were merely the author’s interpretation, and has caused misunderstanding especially amongst Muslims in the country.
The report had drew mixed reactions, with some praising the minister for his stance while others accuse him of allowing vice to propagate.
Zulaikha had demanded that the daily apologise over the report or face “sterner action”.
The minister had also denied telling the newspaper that khalwat raids by religious authorities would he stopped.
"I have never talked about the issue of knocking on doors at night being stopped... those were added by the editor who took their own assumption from my statements.
"Please refer to the interview inside the newspaper which shows more accurately what I meant to say," he told the Al-Hijrah television station yesterday.
A purported full transcript of the interview was also posted on his Facebook page yesterday.