IGP: Mustafa Akyol not a major threat to Malaysia

Fuzi-Harun-AykolPUTRAJAYA: The inspector-general of police today conceded that Mustafa Akyol was not a major threat to the country, days after the prominent author was detained by Islamic authorities.

Mohamad Fuzi Harun said the Turkish-born writer was arrested by the Federal Territory Islamic Department (Jawi) for “teaching Islam without credentials”.

“I don’t think he is a huge threat. But from a religious perspective, he needs credentials before he can teach.

“The same rule applies for locals,” he told reporters after attending the national Warriors Day celebration here this morning.

Akyol was detained last week 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.

They said Akyol was arrested based on a “complaint from the public” over a speech he had made at a roundtable discussion titled “Does freedom of conscience open the floodgate to apostasy?” held earlier at the Royal Selangor Golf Club in Kuala Lumpur.

Fuzi said calls for Akyol’s apprehension had been made by the religious department, and that the police had only facilitated his arrest.

A strong advocate of free speech in Muslim countries, Akyol has frequently criticised both the Islamists and secularists in his home country.

Although he had previously visited Malaysia four times without any incident, his presence this time drew protests from some conservative Muslim groups, as well as Islamic authorities who accused him of breaching a law requiring those speaking on Islam to have official credentials.

The New York Times columnist later credited his release to the intervention of former Turkish president Abdullah Gul whom he said had contacted Malaysian royalty over the matter.