SEPANG: Perlis mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin today launched an attack on Amri Che Mat, a day after the missing activist’s wife named his state fatwa office and Islamic authorities as among those she suspected of involvement in her husband’s disappearance.
Asri said Amri was a Shia Muslim who practised mut’ah, a form of contract marriage not recognised in Malaysia, which can be summarily ended with the consent of both sides.
But Asri denied any suggestion linking him to Amri’s disappearance, after Amri’s wife told the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) inquiry yesterday that the Perlis Mufti Department could have played a role in it.
“Maybe her husband has gone off somewhere. Maybe he has gone to Iran,” he said, referring to the Shia-majority country.
“Maybe he has gone to practise mut’ah in Thailand. How should I know?” he said when met at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) here.
Amri, who co-founded Perlis Hope, has been missing since Nov 24, 2016.
His mysterious disappearance, and that of three others – Raymond Koh, Joshua Hilmy and his wife Ruth – has been the subject of an ongoing inquiry by Suhakam.
Yesterday, Amri’s wife Norhayati Ariffin told the inquiry that Asri was part of a team of some 20 policemen and officers from the Perlis Mufti Department, who arrived at their home in 2015 to question Amri and investigate the activities of Perlis Hope.
She said during the visit, she heard a commotion outside her home, adding that a policeman had screamed at her daughter to ask of her parents’ whereabouts.
Asri admitted he was part of the team of officers, but said the visit took place in 2016. He said it was also conducted peacefully.
“I never heard any policeman screaming at her daughter,” he said, adding that they had entered the house “respectfully”.
‘Shia is a threat, my duty to investigate’
Asri said the house was decorated with pictures of Shia imams.
“The surroundings were similar to a Shia mosque in Iran,” he added.
Asri has been a vocal opponent of Shia Islam, the second largest sect in the Muslim world which Malaysian Islamic authorities label as “deviant”.
In the past, there were accusations that Amri was involved in spreading Shia Islam, a claim dismissed by his wife.
But Asri said it was his duty to investigate the claim following “many complaints from the public” who accused his mufti department of “inaction”.
He added that he was not out to stop Amri from practising his personal beliefs as long as he did not turn it into “an activity”.
“That’s why I went to his house. Not because I wanted to deny his freedom.
“You know me, I talk about freedom of thought, human rights, but this has crossed the limit. You make people around you confused,” said Asri.
Asri also spoke about the spread of Shia in Perlis and neighbouring Thailand.
“They have their centres in Perlis and Satun. This is not a small issue. I repeat, it could threaten national security,” he added.
According to Asri, there was a possibility that Perlis Hope was working towards establishing a theocracy.
“I am against any extremist thinking to establish a country that is based on religious extremism, a mullah state,” said Asri, who has in the past been linked to allegations of promoting Wahhabism, a strain of Islam practised in Saudi Arabia.
The inquiry continues tomorrow, and Asri is likely to be called for his testimony.