After Akyol’s arrest, American Muslim scholar rejects invite to Malaysia

Source: The Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 8 ― An American Muslim scholar has declined to visit Malaysia for a speaking engagement after learning about US-based Turkish scholar Mustafa Akyol’s brief detention here.

According to a report in Free Malaysia Today, Indiana University academic Asma Afsaruddin did not accept an invitation by local Muslim group, Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF), after learning about Akyol’s episode.

Islamic authorities here detained Akyol, who came to Malaysia to participate in a few seminars and lectures organised by IRF back in September, for allegedly teaching without religious credentials.

“Given the current atmosphere, however, I regretfully will not be able to respond positively to your very kind invitation,” Afsaruddin reportedly wrote in her email to IRF declining the invitation. Read more

Ex-judge criticises Jawi over action against Turkish writer, IRF founder

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Former Court of Appeal Judge, Datuk Seri Mohd Hishamudin Yunus. Pic from the Star Online.

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 9 — The Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department (Jawi) was hurting free speech by pursuing two scholars for preaching without credentials, said former Court of Appeal judge Datuk Seri Mohd Hishamudin Yunus.

He said he and the G25 group were saddened by the treatment of Turkish journalist and writer Mustafa Akyol and Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) founder Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa.

“With the greatest respect to Jawi, I am at a loss to understand as to how a public discourse on Islam could be taken to be ‘teaching’ within section 11 of the Syariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act.

“Such action by Jawi undermines our freedom of speech as guaranteed by Article 10 of the Federal Constitution and the Rule of Law as decreed by our Rukun Negara,” he said in a statement. Read more

Academic body opposes accreditation idea for speakers on Islam

Source: FMT News 

Mustafa Akyol- Pic drawn from FMT News

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Academic Movement (MOVE) opposes any action by the government to require speakers at public forums, who focus on issues surrounding Islam, to apply for formal accreditation beforehand.

In a statement today, its executive council said the idea of the stipulation had come about following the detention of Turkish author and journalist Mustafa Akyol by the Federal Territories Islamic Department (Jawi) on Sept 25 after he had come to Malaysia on a lecture circuit.

“This is unprecedented and unreasonable, casting the net of authoritarian control over intellectual discourse way too far,” it said, adding that academics would also be affected. Read more

Mustafa Akyol: Jawi didn’t like my talk on commonalities between Islam, Christianity

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Mustafa Akyol was detained by the police on Monday night after immigration authorities prevented him from boarding his flight at the airport. He was released after Jawi questioned him. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 28 — Turkish writer Mustafa Akyol revealed today that he was detained by Malaysian Islamic authorities this week for a talk he was going to give on the commonalities between the Abrahamic religions.

In a New York Times opinion piece, the United States-based Akyol said he was only released partly because former Turkish president Abdullah Gul had pulled some strings with a Malaysian royalty.

“When they were done with their questioning, they handed me a piece of paper with Malay writing on it and told me that I shouldn’t speak again without proper authorisation,” wrote Akyol, relating his experience questioned by religious officers after a talk on apostasy.

Muslim group Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) had earlier this week said Akyol did not understand the summons since it was in Malay, and authorities did not explain the consequences of not turning up for questioning when they talked to him in both English and Malay. Read more

On the detention of Mustafa Akyol — G25 Malaysia

Source: The Malay Mail Online

SEPT 28 — We, the members of G25, join our friends and colleagues in SUHAKAM and the Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF), as well as the lawyers and academicians, who have spoken out criticising the detention of Mustafa Akyol at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport on 25 September, as he was leaving the country after completing his speaking engagements in K.L. He was accused by Jabatan Agama Islam Wilayah Persekutuan (JAWI) of violating Section 11 of the 1997 Federal Territories Syariah Offences Act which requires that a person teaching Islam must get the prior approval of JAWI.

We consider the action by JAWI as heavy handed, extreme, and arbitrary. Mustafa Akyol was here for the fifth time and has developed a special liking for Malaysia. Although he was aware that Islam is highly politicised in this country, he felt it to be a model Muslim country which has done well in providing for the economic and social development of its people. He was here, like in the previous four occasions, to conduct an academic discourse on Islam, and not, as accused by JAWI, to “teach “or “preach” Islam for which he would require a “tauliah“. Read more

Suhakam: Turkish writer Akyol’s detention blemishes Malaysia’s ‘moderate’ reputation

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Mustafa Akyol was detained by the police on Monday night after immigration authorities prevented him from boarding his flight at the airport. He was released after Jawi questioned him yesterday morning. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 27 — The detention of Turkish author and columnist Mustafa Akyol has tarnished Malaysia’s international reputation as a moderate nation, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) said today.

Suhakam also said it believed the actions by the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department (Jawi), which had applied for an arrest warrant in order to question Akyol after he spoke at a roundtable discussion on apostasy last Sunday, were not government policy, but that the religious department had been allowed to take “arbitrary” measures.

“Such extreme action in our multireligious, multiracial and moderate Malaysia in our view is repressive, undemocratic and intended to be intimidating.

“There is no question that this must be stopped by the government and such actions that reflect hostility, narrow-mindedness and intolerance of civil, intellectual and religious discourse should not be committed again,” Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail said in a statement. Read more

Suhakam visits KLIA as cops confirm Akyol detention

Source: FMT News

Prominent Turkish journalist Mustafa Akyol. Image taken from FMT News.

PETALING JAYA: Police have confirmed the arrest of prominent Turkish journalist Mustafa Akyol, hours after he arrived at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport to board a flight to Rome.

A short statement from the Bukit Aman police headquarters confirmed that immigration authorities at the airport detained Akyol last night following a request by police.

The reason for Akyol’s detention is not known, but Malaysian police have in the past worked together with their counterparts in Turkey to deport critics of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, whose government has arrested tens of thousands of people accused of supporting a failed coup last year.

The confirmation of Akyol’s arrest comes as the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) prepares to visit KLIA today, after efforts to trace Akyol failed following his detention by immigration authorities. Read more

The Refsa Future of Democracy Lecture 2017 by Mustafa Akyol

The REFSA Future of Democracy Lecture 2017

Delivered by Mustafa Akyol


The experience of Malaysia, Turkey and other nations

Tickets are free, register here to confirm your attendance.


The emergence of Donald Trump as the American president has shocked the world, especially for those who believe in democracy, freedom and human rights. For a nation that talks a lot about such values, it is a farce to see that the United States now is seeing the emergence of right-wing extremism, racism and religious bigotry.

Besides the United States, the rise of racism, religious violence and bigotry is also happening in many parts of the world. To make things worse, the erosion of democracy in a number of countries occurs with the sanction of the government of the day. Many of these were elected governments but they have decided to abuse the very same democracy that puts them in power.

While direct violence has yet to hit Malaysia, we too are facing similar backsliding of democracy. Racism, religious bigotry, discriminatory practices are putting democracy at risk. Does this mean democracy is no longer relevant?

The Future of Democracy Lecture:

REFSA as a progressive, not-for-profit research institute providing relevant and reliable analysis on social, economic and political issues is proud to organise a special lecture to address this issue.

While the topic is global in nature, it is still part of REFSA’s role to deal with the issue as it also affects Malaysians. It is REFSA’s duty to promote open and constructive discussions that result in effective policies and good governance to address those issues.

About the speaker:

The REFSA Future of Democracy Lecture will feature Mustafa Akyol, renowned Turkish writer and acclaimed journalist. He is the author of Islam without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty and a number of other books. He is also a columnist for the International New York Times and the Hurriyet Daily News.

With his wide and vast experience, Mustafa Akyol will discuss issues relevant to the topic of this lecture. With his Islamic and liberal democratic background, he will share his views as well as to clear misunderstandings surrounding the problem and complexities of modern democracy.


7:00 pm-8:00pm Dinner

8:00 pm-8:15pm Introduction & Welcome Address

Liew Chin Tong, REFSA Chairman

8:15pm-8:30pm Opening remarks

Dr Syed Azman Syed Ahmad Nawawi

8:30pm-9:30pm “Is Democracy Still Relevant?”

Speaker: Mustafa Akyol

9:30pm -10:00pm Q & A session

Moderator: Wan Hamidi Hamid