GEORGE TOWN: Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy is shocked to hear that a police permit is required for a gathering at a Hindu temple where a “prayer and briefing” to address rising intolerance by certain people is being planned.
The DAP deputy secretary-general asked if it is wrong for Hindus to congregate at a temple of their liking for the sake of religious solidarity.
“When did the Malaysian police assume the responsibility of the guardians of the temple?” he said in a statement today.
“Who are they to say when Hindus can pray and not pray in temples? Isn’t this too much?”
Yesterday, North Seberang Prai district police chief ACP Azmi Adam said the event at a temple in Butterworth did not have a permit and would be illegal if it goes on. He said those involved could be penalised for violating the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012.
He added that the police had also rejected the group’s application to hold the gathering, reasoning that it had the potential to lead to chaos and religious tension.
Banners promoting the “protest”, which have been removed from public spaces since they appeared about a week ago, said it was to counter fugitive Indian preacher Zakir Naik and Perlis mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin.
Both had apparently made denigrating remarks on Hinduism in videos that have been viewed on social media.
A temple committee member told FMT that the police had initially allowed them to carry on with the function in the temple as long as it was done peacefully.
The Sri Saiva Muniswarar Temple is located behind the Butterworth police station at Jalan Bagan Luar.
“Why are the police jumping the gun? Who are the police to not allow the ‘rally’ to take place, but would allow if those gathered wished to pray?” Ramasamy said.
He said he would attend the event, not to rally against Naik, but for genuine prayer and reflection.
Ramasamy said the session was for Hindus who were “hurt and humiliated” by the likes of Naik and Asri.
“Why would Hindus want to gather in a place of worship to organise protests against others?”