The former minister says prohibiting views would lead to the end of freedom of expression.
PETALING JAYA: Founding president of Kita, Zaid Ibrahim has defended actor and former radio deejay Patrick Teoh by arguing that the latter had only ranted against the PAS-led Kedah government officials, and not Islam.
The state government had made a dress code ruling against officials and singers who would be attending 1Malaysia Chinese New Year celebration on Feb 15 in Alor Setar.
As a result of that Teoh shot to infamy after he posted a Facebook status that was deemed as insensitive to Muslims. Teoh has since apologised over the offensive posting.
“I had a quick look at his Facebook page to see what the fuss was about, and I have to say I did not see anything that warrants criminal prosecution.
“He was ranting and using inappropriate language of course, which was rather thoughtless and insensitive of him, but his words were directed at some Muslims leaders in Kedah.
“He was insulting these leaders in particular, which is not the same thing as insulting Islam. We must learn to distinguish between the religion and its administrators,” said Zaid who was a former minister in his blog.
On Friday,the Malaysian Multimedia and Communications Commission (MCMC) had questioned Teoh over the posting put on Tuesday. He was similarly questioned by the police yesterday.
Zaid pointed out that while Teoh’s posting was insensitive, it was not insulting Islam.
Many people were also angry when Teoh had used vulgarity to label the leaders in question.
Again, his choice of language was not at all proper, but he was not referring to the Quran at all or describing the Holy Book in a disparaging manner, said Zaid.
“He was referring to these state administrators. It’s common in western societies to refer to Christian evangelists as “Bible thumpers”, so I guess Patrick was in that mode of thinking when he wrote those words.
“But clearly, the Holy Book was not his target at all: the Muslims “evangelists” were,” he said.
He also pointed out that attempts to prohibit views that are deemed as insensitive would eventually lead to the end of freedom of expression.
“Although we may find them distasteful, we must also protect views that are stupid, gross and insensitive. Only then we can say we live in a democracy and a free society,” he said.