PETALING JAYA: Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) has called on police to end their criminal investigation against Universiti Malaya law lecturer Shad Saleem Faruqi over his article last month on rising religious radicalism.
Its executive director, Eric Paulsen, said the investigation was an “attack on academia and freedom of speech”.
Calling the action shocking and unacceptable, he claimed that it could perpetuate a climate of fear among outspoken Malaysians and further restrict democratic spaces.
He said the article, which criticised the Malaysian Islamic Strategic Research Institute’s (Iksim) stance on Islam and cultural diversity, secularism and liberalism, published in The Star on Nov 23, was an opinion piece on a matter of public importance by an academic.
He said the subsequent police report lodged by Iksim had led Shad Saleem to be investigated under Section 504 of the Penal Code for intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace.
“It is mind-boggling how Iksim thought it fit to drag the police into this matter when the usual approach of disagreeing (with) academics is to write an article responding to the other article,” he said in a statement today.
“Any academic disagreement, even on controversial issues, should be debated and discussed in a civilised manner without the involvement of law enforcement agencies.”
Paulsen said police should have summarily dismissed the report as frivolous and not criminal in nature.
“The wide investigative powers that are vested in the police come with a necessary degree of discretion and good faith as not all police reports against government critics or dissidents must be investigated,” he said.
The Malay Mail Online yesterday reported Shad Saleem, an emeritus professor at Universiti Malaya, as saying that he would be more than happy to have a dialogue with Iksim on the matter and would prefer to resolve the matter peacefully.
“I am more than ready to show that I am also a practising Muslim just as they are and would rather have an intellectual and Islamic discourse with them,” he was quoted as saying.