Malaysia’s approach to Islam dangerous, says Azmi Sharom


Source: The Malaysian Insider

Law lecturer Dr Azmi Sharom speaks during the ‘Islam in a Constitutional Democracy’ forum in Kuala Lumpur. He believes the way religion is dealt with in the country threatens human rights. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Seth Akmal, December 5, 2015.

The way religion is dealt with in the country today presents a clear danger that the protection awarded to the people under the Federal Constitution has become illusionary, says Dr Azmi Sharom.

It was particularly scary for Muslims, especially after a recent Federal Court decision which held as constitutional a provision in the Selangor criminal religious enactment that restricted freedom of expression, the law lecturer said at the “Islam in a Constitutional Democracy” forum in Kuala Lumpur.

Azmi was referring to the case of ZI Publications and its director Mohd Ezra Mohd Zaid, who filed the petition in 2013 to challenge Section 16 of the Shariah Criminal Enactment 1995.

Ezra was charged in 2013 with an offence under the section for his involvement in the publication of “Allah, Love and Liberty” written by Irshad Manji.

“It is particularly scary for Muslims, the Federal Court decision in the Ezra case seems to give carte blanche to state legislatures to make whatever law they want under the guise of Islam, even if it completely takes away our rights protected by the constitution.

“With regard to human rights, it’s very dangerous. What is happening now is that the protection we are supposed to get has become illusionary.”

He added that over the past few decades, it was a case of “only one version was correct” in dealing with Islam in Malaysia.

He said those who disagreed with this version ran the risk of being punished.

“The approach towards Islam has become more and more oppressive, more and more authoritarian, and more and more supremacist.

“And if you disagree with this, you are a sinner, you should be punished.

“That sounds like Isis to me,” Azmi said, referring to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

Azmi added that he was not implying that the religious authorities in the country were like Isis, but the approach that only one view was correct was dangerous.

He said this could pave the way for more people to develop extremist views. – December 5, 2015.