About 60 percent of Malaysia's 30 million people are Muslim, most of them Sunni. (MOHD RASFAN/AFP/Getty Images/AFP/Getty Images)
Followers of the Shia sect of Islam are allowed to practice their religion, butmay not spread their beliefs to others, according to the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Jamil Khir Baharom.
“We never harass Shia followers!” Baharom said, “but it’s just that they are banned from spreading the ideology.”
The Malaysian government has mobilized a movement to try and suppress growth of the sect, which has grown in Malaysia in the past 10 years to a community of at least 250,000 followers, the AhulBayt News Agency reported.
About 60 percent of the nation’s 30 million people are Muslim, while another 20 percent are Buddhist, 9 percent are Christian and 6 percent are Hindu.
In early August, Malaysia’s Home Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Abdul Rahim Mohamad Radzi announced the growth of the minority Shia population along with government plans to root out the movement.
Radzi said, “The development of information technology is among the factors for their growth as the teachings are spreading through a range of social sites,” adding that as such, measures to curb Shia practices will “involve the Home Ministry, the police, Registrar of Societies, control of publications under the Printing and Publication Act, curbing the production of CDs and DVDs by the Film Censorship Board and monitoring by the Immigration Department.”
Historically, Sunni and Shiite Muslims share tensions over differences in belief about the succession of prophets in Islam, as well as how to practice Islam today. GlobalPost recently produced a Special Report on this divide, which has played out extensively in political and social matters in several nations, including Bahrain, Iran, Syria — and now Malaysia.
The Minister’s declaration came at a time when religious tensions in Malaysia are already running high, as the government continues to dole out punishments to anyone perceived to be directly disrespecting Islam.
Several incidents of governmental action against religious practices in Malaysia this year have garnered worldwide attention.
In July, a Malaysian couple was charged with sedition after posting pictures of themselves eating pork during the holy month of Ramadan. They pleaded not guilty and claimed the picture was meant to be a joke, but the government took the incident seriously and denied bail to the couple, detaining them in jail during their trial.
In a separate event this week, Singaporean tourists were expelled from Malaysia for chanting Buddhist prayers in a room reserved for Muslim worship. The owner of the resort where the room is located is currently under investigation and has already had his resident’s visa was revoked for his role in the incident.
Malaysia escalates human right abuse against Shia Muslims
4 hours ago
On 21st April 2014, at 2.30pm Mr Mohd Kamilzuhairi Abdul Aziz, a local Malaysian Shia cleric was arrested while giving an opening speech commemorating birth of Lady Fatima (A).
On 21st April 2014, at 2.30pm Mr Mohd Kamilzuhairi Abdul Aziz, a local Malaysian Shia cleric was arrested while giving an opening speech at a luncheon organized by his group. The luncheon has been held for many years to commemorate the birth of Lady Fatimah Al Zahra, the daughter of Prophet Muhammad (pbut).
Around 10 policemen in uniform, an amount of religious officers from Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor (Selangor State Islamic Department) and officials from ROS (The Registrar of Societies of Malaysia) arrived in Taman Sri Gombak, at the luncheon and arrested him after a little argument.
Mr Kamil Zuhairi was brought to Selayang Police HQ in the state of Selangor and was interrogated for more than 6 hours. At one point, policemen and officials from ROS went to his house to find for documents related to the existence of Shia Jafari (the Twelvers) community in Malaysia.
The Registrar of Societies of Malaysia is a department under the Ministry of Home Affairs that handles non-governmental organizations and political parties.
According to Gombak Police Chief, ACP Ahmad Ali, the arrest was made after ROS lodged a police report on the existence of Ja'fari movement whom are not registered as an association .
However it is important to note here that on 24 July 2013, Secretary General of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Datuk Seri Abdul Rahim Mohamad Radzi, said that it is decided by the Home Ministry that any Shia movement are not recognized and considered illegal. This according to him is in accordance with Section 5 of the Societies Act 1966. He was commenting an attempt by a Shia organization to apply to register with the The Registrar of Societies of Malaysia in the state of Melaka on June 18 2011, but was rejected on August 4 of the same year.
Datuk Othman Mustapha, Head of Jabatan Kemajuan Agama Islam Malaysia (The Department of Islamic Development Malaysia under Prime Minister's office) once stated that Shia is a banned faith in Malaysia under Sharia law, and any movement or activities as a community is also illegal and can be arrested under civil law.
On 29th July 2013, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom said that Malaysian government tolerates Christians, Hindus and other faith but wont allow Shia faith to exist as Malaysian Muslims are only entitled to be Sunni followers. He also stated that Shia is not a school of thought and we will not recognize it as a religion.
Malaysian government's ill treatments against Shia adherents are resulted from a 1996 fatwa banning, outlawing and declaring Shia as ‘a deviant teaching'.
Mr Kamil Zuhairi was released with two guarantors before midnight and the investigation is still ongoing. He is given a date to appear in court and is suspected of violating section 42 of the Societies Act. Mr Kamil will be given two months by ROS to give explanations or he will face charge.
We denounce this act of the State as opressive as it violates the fundamental rights of human beings. The State should be reminded of its obligation to respect and fully protect the rights of all individuals to assemble peacefully and associate freely. We believe this matter should be taken into consideration by Mr Maina Kiai, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of assembly and association.
Malaysia has a serious human rights problem, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW), which released a 100+ page report entitled “No Answers, No Apologies” detailing abuses by Malaysian authorities. The report comes on the heels of accounts that Malaysia arrested infants from the country’s minority Shiite Muslim sect, based upon the “crime” of engaging in Shiite religious practices.
International attention has been given to Malaysia after Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 went missing last month, and human rights watchdogs welcome the focus.
“Unjustified shootings, mistreatment and deaths in custody, and excessive use of force in dispersing public assemblies persist because of an absence of meaningful accountability for Malaysia’s police force, the Royal Malaysia Police (RMP),” says the HRW report.
The human rights abuses are directed at all sectors of Malaysian society, however significant media attention has been drawn towards the plight of Shia Muslims in Malaysia, who are facing increased discrimination on a daily basis.
“Among the marginalized in Malaysia, there is a single group perhaps more marginalized than many. They are the people that Malaysia has forgotten. They are the Shiite Muslims” says Loyar Burok, a popular Malaysian blog. The article is entitled “Shiite Muslims in Malaysia: A Cultural Genocide.”
The issue of anti Shia human rights abuses is slowly becoming endemic to the country’s populace. On Reddit, on a discussion of human rights abuses in Malaysia, one user wrote “In Malaysia, Shia is considered deviant […] You also not allowed to form a group to practice your faith. Yes we are stern in protecting our faith and our children faith and to keep it pure from innovation. Regarding Allah words, it was the right move, because there were underground movement to spread confusion among muslim youth in the country.”
When questioned about the morality of the behavior of the Malaysian government, the same user replied with a horrific account of conditions in Malaysia: “They were not oppressed, most probably they would end up in rehabilitation center to correct their faith.”
Selayang: Polis menahan Pengerusi Jawatankuasa Penganjuran Sambutan Wiladah Saidatina Fatimah Az- Zahra Ustaz Mohd Kamil Zuhairi, ketika beliau sedang berucap pada majlis anjuran pengikut Syiah Imamiyyah (Ja'fari) di Taman Sri Gombak, 2.45 petang tadi.
Difahamkan sehingga 5.20 petang, Mohd Kamil yang berbaju batik biru masih berada di Balai Polis Selayang untuk memberi keterangan yang sudah berlangsung hampir dua jam.
Beberapa pegawai daripada Kementerian Dalam Negeri (KDN), Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor (JAIS) dan Jabatan Pendaftaran Pertubuhan Malaysia turut berada di padang awam tempat Mohd Kamil ditahan.
KUALA LUMPUR: Polis menahan Pengerusi Jawatankuasa Masyarakat Awam Syiah Imamiyyah (Ja'fari) Mohd Kamilzuhairi Abd Aziz ketika beliau sedang berucap pada Majlis Perasmian Sambutan Ulang Tahun Kelahiran Saydatina Fatimah Al Zahra, di sini, petang tadi.
Menurut Setiausaha program, Radin Ahmad Faizul Radin Mohamad Hambali, berkata pihak polis yang hadir bersama Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor (JAIS) serta Pendaftar Pertubuhan (ROS)
tiba pada jam 2.35 petang hadir untuk membawa pengerusinya ke Ibu Pejabat Polis Daerah (IPD) Gombak bagi memberi keterangan berhubung majlis terbabit. "Pengerusi dibawa menaiki van JAIS ke balai polis dan sehingga kini beliau masih disiasat," katanya ketika ditemui di IPD Gombak, sebentar tadi.
Ketua Polis Gombak, Asisten Komisioner Ali Ahmad, berkata ROS tampil membuat laporan polis berhubung kewujudan Ja'fari serta datang membuat serbuan.
Bagaimanapun siasatan masih dijalankan dan laporan penuh akan dimaklumkan.
Gombak: Pengerusi Jawatankuasa Masyarakat Awam Syiah Imamiyyah (Ja’fari) Mohd Kamilzuhairi Abd Aziz ditahan polis, ketika sedang berucap pada majlis perasmian sambutan Ulang Tahun Kelahiran Saidatina Fatimah Al Zahra di sini, semalam.
Ketika ditahan pada jam 2.35 petang, Kamilzuhairi berucap di depan kira-kira 100 tetamu, sebelum dia dibawa ke Ibu Pejabat Polis Gombak untuk siasatan lanjut.
Ketua Polis Daerah Gombak, Asisten Komisioner Ali Ahmad, berkata pihaknya menerima laporan daripada Pendaftar Pertubuhan (ROS) mengenai kewujudan Jawatankuasa Ja’fari itu.
“Kami hanya membantu ROS menjalankan siasatan terhadap kumpulan terbabit dan semua dokumen berkaitan ada pada ROS, ” katanya ketika dihubungi BH, semalam.
Jurucakap ROS ketika ditemui di IPD Gombak berkata, Ketua Pengarah Jabatan Pendaftaran Pertubuhan akan mengeluarkan kenyataan dalam masa terdekat berhubung penahanan Kamilzuhairi.