PETALING JAYA, 5 Nov 2009: The police are now being used to silence the views of groups like Sisters in Islam (SIS) following the lodging of multiple reports against the women’s rights group.
SIS programme manager Masjaliza Hamzah said that to date, what is believed to be more than 50 police reports have been lodged against their joint press statement calling for a review of syariah laws which allow whipping as punishment for Muslims.
Masjaliza told The Nut Graph today, this had never happened before. “We have never been called in for questioning by the police. There have been a lot of general complaints against us but it has always been in the public sphere.”
Using state mechanisms
Masjaliza said that groups trying to silence SIS seem to be upping the ante by using the police against them.
“The police reports against SIS and JAG (Joint Action Group for Gender Equality which SIS is a member of) marks the beginning of more formal ways to silence civil society groups like ours to talk about issues affecting Muslims,” she said.
She noted that it was non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and individuals who were resorting to state mechanisms to complain against and silence views they did not agree with.
“This is an attempt to police our opinion and thought, a way for certain segments of society to narrow down the space for diversity of opinion in Islam,” she said.
“It’s interesting that this has happened at about the same time the former Perlis Mufti was arrested for giving ceramah without certification,” she added, referring to the arrest of Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin on 1 Nov by the Selangor Religious Affairs Department (Jais).
Masjaliza said all kinds of methods were being used to curb the right to speak out and have different views.
For example, in June this year, PAS passed a resolution during its muktamar calling for SIS to be investigated and declared “haram” if it was found to be anti-Islam.
Masjaliza also wondered what these groups found un-Islamic about SIS’s statements.
“We think that principles of equality and justice are an important part of Islam. I wonder what about these two fundamental principles that all these groups find offensive? What is wrong with saying that equality, justice, freedom and dignity are part of the message of the Quran?”
Masjaliza said it appeared that the police reports were part of a concerted effort to silence people who speak up.
“Police reports were lodged at different places in Malaysia. This is not purely random,” she said.
It was reported that Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (Abim) lodged 11 reports against SIS on 9 Oct 2009 and were planning on filing 20 more reports nationwide the following day.
However, Abim secretary-general Raimi Ab Rahim told The Nut Graph that only five or six more reports were lodged in Pahang and Selangor.
The Nut Graph was unable to confirm the total number of police reports that have been lodged against SIS despite several attempts at contacting Bukit Aman and the Kuantan police.
The Nut Graph needs your support