Mahathir: ‘Climbing’ into houses for khalwat raids ‘not Islamic’

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has shrugged off concerns that an announcement on ending snooping into khalwat cases would make conservative Muslims in the country upset, saying Islam is not a cruel religion.

Mahathir said Islam does not dictate its followers to “go and hunt for people” and “needlessly find trouble”.

“This is to the point that you want to climb into their house and all that … that is not Islam,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a forum at Suria KLCC here.

He was responding to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mujahid Yusof Rawa’s comments in The Star earlier today that what Muslims do behind closed doors is none of the government’s business.

This means religious officers will no longer go knocking on doors or break down doors in the middle of the night to probe reports of khalwat or other alleged wrongdoings.

He also pointed out that although alcohol consumption is not allowed in Islam, the government would not “interfere” if it is done behind closed doors.

“My concern is what goes on in public that encroaches on sensitivity, legality or criminality. Only then does the government come in, not because we want to be the moral police but because we want to secure the public sphere,” he said.

The Star also quoted Mujahid, who is in charge of religious affairs, as saying the government intends to uphold Islam as a religion that is compassionate to all. He added that this would be translated into all government policies, Islamic judiciary affairs and inter-religious dialogues.

Mahathir today concurred with Mujahid’s views that Islam is a compassionate religion, “not about chopping heads and hands”.

He said there are other “milder” forms of punishment, and questioned why some wanted to harass people and cut their hands off.

“Certainly religion takes into account the life of a person. It’s not easy to allow killing of people by cutting off one’s head. Islam does not agree with killing.

“If you kill, you commit a sin,” the Langkawi MP said.

Campaigning in PD

On another matter, Mahathir said there is nothing wrong with him going to campaign for PKR president-elect Anwar Ibrahim in the Port Dickson by-election, which will enable his return to politics after recently obtaining a royal pardon.

“There’s nothing wrong with the prime minister going to campaign. I’m going there as party chairman,” Mahathir said, referring to his party, PPBM.

Several Pakatan Harapan leaders and ministers have been criticised for seemingly campaigning for Anwar using government machinery and resources. They have since denied this and said they are only campaigning for Anwar as party members.