Turkish scholar, IRF head summoned by Jawi

KUALA LUMPUR: Prominent Turkish journalist Mustafa Akyol, who is on a lecture tour in Malaysia, has been called in for questioning by the Federal Territory Islamic Affairs Department (Jawi), according to a summons issued to him sighted by FMT.

Akyol is being summoned to the Jawi office in Kuala Lumpur to be questioned under Section 11 of the Syariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act, for the offence of teaching without official credentials from the religious authorities.

The department has also summoned Akyol’s host, Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa who heads the Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF), for “abetting” with Akyol, an offence under Section 43 of the same law.

Dr Farouk, when contacted by FMT, confirmed receiving the summons.

Since last week, Akyol, 45, has been featured in several events hosted by IRF, including for a talk on his latest work, The Islamic Jesus: How the King of the Jews Became a Prophet of the Muslims, which the New York Times descibed as “a welcome expansion of the fragile territory known as common ground”.

It is believed that authorities had earlier insisted that a talk this afternoon at the Nottingham University’s Kuala Lumpur campus get approval from Jawi.

The Turkish-born Akyol, now based in the United States, 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 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.