It was PH that turned a deaf ear to my proposal, says mufti

Perlis mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin.

PETALING JAYA: Days after being labelled as “deaf” by the prime minister, Perlis mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin today questioned why Putrajaya had turned a “deaf ear” to a proposal on interfaith dialogue he once shared with them.

Taking to Facebook, Asri recalled how Mujahid Yusof Rawa, the minister in charge of Islamic affairs, had proposed a meeting between him and Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy last July.

This was after Asri and Ramasamy had been involved in a public spat over allegations of terrorism following Ramasamy’s call to Putrajaya to deport controversial Indian Muslim preacher Zakir Naik.

Asri said he attended the meeting, “despite the majority of Muslims” not in favour of him doing so, as he wanted to “maintain the peace of Islam and respect the authority of national Islamic management”.

“Among some of my suggestions during the meeting that the YB minister seemed agreeable to, and YB Dr Ramasamy, who agreed with it as well, was a platform for national dialogue represented by leaders of the various religions,” he said.

“It was proposed that issues involving religious sensitivities be discussed there first.”

He said the platform was to avoid tension among the people, and it was proposed that the Islamic Development Department of Malaysia (Jakim) would head it.

Asri said Mujahid appeared to “very agreeable” with the proposal but “sadly, this never came to be, even until today. I do not know (at which point) it got stuck”.

Asri said statements sensitive to and relating to Muslims were being made daily, “making many feel nervous”.

“There is nothing proactive being done,” he said.

“I am not sure if this administration intends to take steps to control the situation.”

Asri had on Monday suggested that the government practised double standards, following the arrest of an associate, preacher Muhammad Zamri Vinoth Kalimuthu, over remarks allegedly insulting Hinduism.

“Many statements insulting Muslims were made by individuals who are part of the current government, creating racial tension, but they were only called to give a statement,” he claimed.

Asked for his response, Dr Mahathir Mohamad labelled the mufti “deaf” while defending the Pakatan Harapan administration’s Islamic credentials.

“If he could hear, we do many things for Muslims and Islam but he does not hear it,” the prime minister said.

Yesterday, Asri published several lines from Mahathir’s autograph in his memoir “A Doctor in the House”.

“Never ignore the truth due to fear. A true struggle is not without challenges and opposition,” Asri quoted from Mahathir’s note.

“God willing, I shall hold fast to this philosophy even if it is against Tun M’s own government,” he added.