KUALA LUMPUR: Over 1,000 people, including leaders from Umno and PAS, thronged the capital to “defend Islam’s sovereignty”, to protest several issues including the Rome Statute and the recent arrest of a popular preacher.
The crowd, some of whom arrived at noon, marched to the Sogo shopping complex from the Masjid Jamek mosque, carrying placards and shouting “Hidup Islam” (“Long Live Islam”).
Some also carried banners in support of the Johor Crown Prince, Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, better known as TMJ, one of the vocal critics of the Rome Statute.
One read: “Don’t make TMJ a smokescreen”, while another declared “Touch TMJ and we will fight.”
Putrajaya had last month withdrawn from signing the international treaty, with Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad saying it was due to the confusion of “one particular person who wants to be free to beat up people”.
Among the opposition leaders at the rally, organised by Gerakan Pembela Ummah (Ummah), included Umno Youth chief Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki, his PAS counterpart Muhammad Khalil Abdul Hadi and the Islamist party’s deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man.
Ummah deputy chairman Kamaruzaman Mohamad said today’s rally was to address issues which threatened both the country’s sovereignty and the special position of Islam.
Apart from the Rome Statute, the gathering was also to demand justice for Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim, the fireman who died after the riots sparked by the relocation of a temple last year.
It was also to protest the arrest of preacher Zamri Vinoth Kalimuthu for allegedly insulting Hinduism. He was released yesterday on police bail.
Later, when addressing the crowd, Tuan Ibrahim said the number of rally-goers who turned up showed there is palpable concern over Islam’s status under the current administration.
“If Islam is not under threat, there would not be so many here today.”
He also said Muslims will not sit idly by as forces try to obstruct Islam.
Ashraf Wajdi, meanwhile, said today’s rally was only the beginning, with a bigger one to follow as the rakyat could not accept that the royal institution was being ridiculed.
“In the Federal Constitution, we must defend the royal institution and uphold Islam.”
He also took a swipe at Attorney-General Tommy Thomas for not coming to the defence of the royalties at a forum held last month.
“He should resign. He is not fit to be an AG as he allowed the Rulers to be mocked.”
The rally ended early due to heavy rain.