Banning foreigners, refugees from mosques against Islam, say NGOs

Foreigners are currently prohibited from joining congregational prayers at mosques due to fears of Covid-19 infections.

PETALING JAYA: Three Muslim NGOs have criticised the government’s move to ban foreigners from mosques as houses of worship gradually reopen to the public, saying it is against Islam to prohibit them from entering solely because they are “refugees and outsiders”.

In a statement, the Malaysian Consultative Council of Islamic Organizations, Alliance of World Mosque in Defence of Al Aqsa and Ulama Assembly of Asia also spoke against the hostility towards Rohingya refugees.

This includes reports of banners in a district in Johor rejecting the presence of Rohingya at mosques and suraus, the eviction of Rohingya tenants by landlords in Perak and the barring of foreigners from mosques.

They voiced regret that refugees had been treated with “a great deal of negativity, animosity and unreasonable assumptions by some members of the Muslim community”.

“It is unacceptable to ban them from entering mosques due to the Covid-19 outbreak because the issue is to ensure that no Covid-19-positive individuals are at gatherings in mosques, either nationals or non-nationals.

“To single out a community from one ethnicity is discriminatory,” they said. “The principle of Islam is to protect the oppressed, regardless of religion or race.”

The government’s move to allow only locals to pray at mosques due to the high numbers of Covid-19 cases among foreigners and to prioritise locals had also drawn criticism from Muslim activist Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa, who warned that it could border on xenophobia.

The NGOs urged Muslim scholars to speak up and educate the public on the responsibilities of Muslims and Muslim governments to defend the oppressed.

“They need to write and discuss with the government how Islamic principles should be applied in addressing refugee issues, especially in defending the rights of the oppressed people.

“We urge the authorities to curb the spread of hatred and actions against the oppressed refugee community which goes beyond the laws of the country,” they said.

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