Turkish author departs Malaysia after Jawi pressure to cancel forum

Mustafa-Akyol-The-Islamic-Jesus-1KUALA LUMPUR: Organisers of a talk featuring prominent Turkish journalist Mustafa Akyol to discuss the theme of his latest work on the theme of Christian-Muslim dialogue were today forced to cancel the event, following pressure from Islamic authorities, FMT has learned.

This comes after officers from the Federal Territory Islamic Affairs Department (Jawi) visited the University of Nottingham Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur campus, just an hour before the start of a forum based on the theme of Akyol’s latest work, The Islamic Jesus: How the King of the Jews Became a Prophet of the Muslims.

It is understood that organisers had initially refused to accede to the last-minute demand by Jawi for Akyol to get permission from the department, but had finally agreed to cancel the forum.

Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa, director of the Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) which is hosting Akyol’s lecture tour in Malaysia, said the prominent author has already left the country.

He said the decision to cancel the event titled “The Islamic Jesus: The Commonalities of Judaism, Christianity and Islam”, scheduled to take place at Nottingham University’s KL campus at 2.30pm, was made based on advice from his lawyer.

“I have already spoken to my lawyers, and we have been advised to cancel the forum and also not to meet with Jawi officers here (at Nottingham University Kuala Lumpur campus),” he told FMT.

Both Akyol and Farouk have been summoned by Jawi who accuse Akyol of teaching without official credentials from the religious authorities, an offence under the Syariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act.

Since last week, Akyol, 45, a critic of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who has spoken out against both Islamists and secularists in his home country, has been featured in several events hosted by IRF.

Last night at a forum on democracy, Akyol criticised governments who use 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 is not part of the shariah which only sought to fight crimes and not personal sins.

“I believe as a Muslim, that sins should not be matters of the state. You can and should advise Muslims who commit sins but you should not punish them,” he said.