KUALA LUMPUR: Prominent Turkish journalist Mustafa Akyol is believed to have been detained at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), hours after Islamic authorities pressured organisers of a forum featuring him to call it off at the last minute, FMT has learned.
Akyol had gone to the airport to board a flight to Rome via Istanbul on a Turkish Airlines flight at 11.35pm tonight.
The Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) which hosted the US-based writer for a lecture tour that abruptly ended this afternoon following the cancellation of a forum at the Nottingham University’s Kuala Lumpur campus, said it had been trying to get in touch with Akyol at the airport.
IRF director Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa said he feared that Akyol was detained at the immigration gate before being taken away.
“I could not get in touch with him after he told me he was stopped at the immigration,” he told FMT. “I presumed he was taken away.”
Farouk said efforts to contact KLIA’s immigration authority had been in vain.
“I could not contact the immigration. They did not answer the call.”
According to Farouk, Akyol’s wife, Riada Asimovic Akyol also tried in vain to contact her husband.
“He did not contact her from the business lounge as promised,” said Farouk.
FMT also tried to contact the immigration at the airport as well as the airport authorities without success.
The Federal Territory Islamic Affairs Department (Jawi) had earlier issued a summonse to Akyol for investigation under the Syariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act, for the offence of teaching without official credentials from the religious authorities. It is believed that the session did not take place.
The department has also summoned Farouk for “abetting” with Akyol, an offence under the same law. Farouk was to present himself at the Jawi office in the city on Wednesday.
This has been Akyol’s fifth visit to Malaysia.
The 45-year-old is a critic of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and is known for speaking out against both Islamists and secularists in his home country.
Last night at a forum on democracy, Akyol criticised governments who used draconian laws to remain in power.
“You won’t be in power forever and when you’re out of power, you will realise that these illiberal systems that you created will make things very difficult for you,” he said.
In an earlier forum, Akyol questioned advocates of moral policing, saying it was not part of the shariah which only sought to fight crimes and not personal sins.