SHAH ALAM: Two leaders of Pakatan Harapan (PH) have criticised the religious authorities and police for detaining well-known Turkish author-writer Mustafa Akyol as he was preparing to leave Malaysia after addressing a forum.
PH chief secretary Saifuddin Abdullah said the views expressed by Akyol at the forum were in no way against Islam.
Saifuddin, who attended a programme with Akyol, said the Turkish author defended Islam with views that were progressive.
“I didn’t see anything that he said was against Islam and, if there are contrary opinions, then we should debate them in a proper manner,” he said when met at the Institut Darul Ehsan (IDE) think tank here today.
Police today confirmed the detention of Akyol last night, hours after the Federal Territory Islamic Department (Jawi) ordered the cancellation of a forum featuring him.
Akyol then left for the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) but was detained by immigration officers following a directive by Bukit Aman police.
Concerns for his safety arose after the Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF), which invited Akyol to speak at a number of lectures here, failed to contact him.
Earlier, Jawi ordered Akyol and IRF director Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa to present themselves at the Jawi office for questioning. It was understood that the meeting with Akyol did not take place as he had left for KLIA. Farouk was asked to meet Jawi officials tomorrow.
Saifuddin said the pretext that Akyol had no credentials to speak on religion was frivolous, pointing out that he did not come to Malaysia to teach religion.
“The forum he attended was intellectual in nature and open to everyone.
“PH is very disappointed. This should not have happened at all,” he said.
Meanwhile, Amanah secretary-general Anuar Tahir said the detention of Akyol, who is a columnist of the New York Times, was most improper.
“I am ashamed that such a prominent person is treated in this way,” he said.