G25: Let Shad Saleem face a panel discussion on his article

Shad-Saleem-Faruqi-g25-muslim-islam-malaysia-1PETALING JAYA: The G25 has proposed that Universiti Malaya law lecturer Shad Saleem Faruqi, who is under investigation over his article on rising religious radicalism published last month, be made to face a panel in an open forum on the issue.

In a statement today, the group of prominent moderate Malays said such a move would be a better and more democratic way of dealing with the writing if the authorities considered it to be offensive.

It said other experts could challenge Shad Saleem in an intellectual way in the forum.

It said the panel discussion should be televised live so that Malaysians could make their own judgment on whether his statement posed any threat to national security.

“We should make it a practice to adopt the intellectual approach in dealing with differences of opinion as it makes the country look more mature and civilised as a moderate Muslim majority country should,” G25 said.

The article titled “Religious radicalism on the rise”, which criticised the Malaysian Islamic Strategic Research Institute’s (Iksim) stance on Islam and cultural diversity, secularism and liberalism, was published in The Star on Nov 23.

Iksim subsequently lodged a police report on it, leading to Shad Saleem being investigated under Section 504 of the Penal Code for intentional insult with intent to provoke a breach of the peace.

G25 said it was alarmed at the investigation, claiming that it set a dangerous precedent that any discussion on Islam and its place within the Federal Constitution, not in line with the official view, would be considered by the authorities as radical and therefore a threat to national peace and security.

“Such an attitude by our law enforcement agencies will be counter-productive to Islam as it puts the religion in a bad light, implying that Islamic institutions are authoritarian,” it said, adding that it was “not a good report card” for a country that called itself a democracy.

G25 also said it supported the stands taken by Shad Saleem, UM assistant professor Azmi Sharom and former Court of Appeal judge Mohd Hishamudin Yunus that shariah laws passed by the states must not contravene any of the provisions of the Federal Constitution.

It said they had made the assertion in their presentations at the G25 Forum in December 2015.

“For example, a state shariah law cannot violate the provisions of the Federal Constitution pertaining to fundamental liberties like freedom of speech and expression, freedom of movement, equality before the law, right not to be deprived of one’s liberty and life, except in accordance with a just law, etc,” G25 said,

“These are the rights of the people which cannot be taken away by any state or shariah law,” it added.