Kelantan nabs Shia Muslims in Merdeka eve raid

Religious enforcement officers seen gathered inside the Shia centre in Kota Bharu last night.

KOTA BHARU: Authorities in Kelantan last night raided a religious centre for Shia Muslims before arresting them.

The raid, by some 20 officers from the Kelantan Islamic religious department, started just before midnight.

It is understood that the officers took away several items including reading materials from the centre in Jalan Sri Cemerlang here. Some 10 men and women were later brought to the nearest police station.

But when contacted by FMT this morning, a spokesman for the Kelantan Islamic Affairs Department (Jaheik) declined to confirm the incident.

Islamic authorities in Malaysia consider Shia Islam, which is predominant among Muslims in several Middle East countries, as “deviant”, with Friday sermons often warning Muslims against following the school of thought.

A 1996 fatwa by the National Fatwa Council bans Shia teachings. Since then, Shia Muslim gatherings have been subjected to raids and arrests, with adherents charged with criminal offences under shariah laws.

Meanwhile, a member of the Shia Muslim community who declined to be identified questioned the raid’s timing, saying it took place just a day after a lecture in Kota Bharu by a mufti from a neighbouring state.

He described the mufti as “staunchly anti-Shia”, and questioned authorities in Kelantan for encouraging actions against Muslims who do not subscribe to Sunni Islam.

“It will only encourage intra-Muslim intolerance,” he added.