Poser over arrests of 200 Iraqi Shia Muslims


PETALING JAYA: Questions have been raised over the status of more than 200 Iraqi nationals who were arrested in Selangor recently for taking part in a Shia Muslim ceremony, after both police and religious authorities gave contradicting statements on the matter.

Selangor Islamic Department (Jais) director Haris Kasim said today he could not comment on the matter as it was now a police case.

“Cannot comment anymore. It is now under the police,” he told FMT, adding that Jais had made a police report.

Several Middle East-based media outlets reported over the weekend that some 200 Iraqis arrested by Selangor religious authorities at a condominium near Serdang were released after pressure from the Iraqi government.

The Iraqis, most of them postgraduate students, were attending a Muharram 10 ceremony, a major date in the Islamic calendar which among others marks the death of the grandson of the Prophet, Hussein, a central figure in Shia Islam.

Contacted by FMT, Serdang police chief ACP Megat Mohamad Aminuddin Megat Alias said the police were not aware of the incident as the arrests were made by Jais.

“The religious department made the arrests. Don’t ask the police. It (the department) didn’t hand anything to us,” he said.

A similar reply was given by Selangor police chief Mazlan Mansor.

“The investigation is being done by Jais,” he told FMT when contacted.

The arrests were reported by Al-Kawthar TV, a pan-Arab channel operating from Tehran, which quoted an official from the Iraqi government as saying that it “would not tolerate the Malaysian authorities’ detention of (Iraqi) students”, adding that Baghdad viewed the action “as damaging to the bilateral relations”.