Lawyer Siti Kasim grills Asri over Shia and Sunni

Lawyer Siti Kasim asks if the Federal Constitution specifies any Islamic school of thought when it mentions Islam.

KUALA LUMPUR: Perlis mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin was today grilled on Shia and Sunni Islam, as he took the witness stand at the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia’s (Suhakam) inquiry into the disappearance of an activist accused of practising Shia Islam.

Lawyer Siti Kasim, appearing for the Bar Council today, asked Asri whether the Federal Constitution specified any Islamic school of thought when it mentions Islam.

Asri agreed with her suggestion that the constitution makes no mention of Sunni, Shia or Ahmadiah, the latter two of which are considered “deviant” by Malaysia’s Islamic authorities.

Asri also agreed to a question on whether he was accused of promoting Wahhabism, the controversial form of Islam prevalent in Saudi Arabia and known for its restrictive rules.

Siti Kasim then asked Asri if Perlis too had issued a fatwa against Shia Islam, to which Asri said the fatwa had yet to be gazetted.

Siti Kasim: Do you agree that the fatwa was gazetted in 2012?

Asri: As far as I know, no. I was not a mufti then.

Siti Kasim: We have proof that it has been gazetted. A mufti must be aware of the laws under his purview. Do you agree or not?

Asri: I disagree. I know of the fatwa, I don’t know about the gazette.

Siti Kasim: So as far you are concerned, it has not been gazetted.

Asri: Yes.

Siti Kasim: So action cannot be taken if it’s not gazetted?

Asri: Yes.

Siti Kasim: So since there was no action taken, someone not satisfied with Amri must have taken action on their own.

Asri: Disagree. It does not happen in Malaysia. Unless there is information from the police.

Siti Kasim then asked Asri if he was worried about Shia Muslim activities and if he felt that Shia Muslims were extremists.

Asri had earlier told the inquiry that he went to Amri’s house to check on complaints that he was spreading Shia teachings.

Asri, who is a vocal critic of Shia Islam, in January labelled it as a threat to national security, sparking criticism from rights groups who said that most suspected members of the Islamic State (IS) nabbed in Malaysia were Sunni Muslims.

Siti Kasim: Do you know of Abu Suffiyan, Muhammad Aqif, a terrorist from Malaysia, who is a Muslim but Sunni?

Asri: What is Sunni?

Siti Kasim: Abu Bakar Al-Baghdadi (IS leader). Ever heard of him? The whole world knows. Is he a Shia?

Asri: I haven’t checked.

We had no warrant, says Perlis mufti over ‘raid’ at Amri’s house