I won’t bow down to blackmail, smear campaign, says prominent Muslim activist

The Dang Wangi police station in Kuala Lumpur, where an activist gave his statement today over a report on sexual assault lodged in February.

KUALA LUMPUR: A prominent Muslim activist has come out strongly to reject sexual accusations against him, saying certain individuals as well as organisations are seeking to destroy his reputation through “blackmail and an orchestrated smear campaign” through the media.

This comes hours after he gave his statement to the police over a report lodged by a 27-year-old man some five months ago, accusing him of groping and kissing him.

Speaking to FMT, the activist, who heads a vocal Islamic group, singled out a former assistant for the accusations, adding that an online news portal which published the claims by several former staffers would also be held accountable for defamation.

“I categorically deny this malicious accusation,” he said, naming a former assistant he sued six years ago as the person behind the latest allegations of sexual assault against him.

It is understood that the man referred to had been investigated for criminal breach of trust over claims of misappropriating funds.

“I had also taken a civil suit against him in 2014 and he lost the case and was declared a bankrupt,” the activist told FMT.

Checks with the Department of Insolvency confirmed the claim that the person, whose name FMT is withholding pending a response, has been declared a bankrupt in 2017.

Meanwhile, the activist questioned how a bankrupt could become a director of an organisation.

He said the man was bent on going on the offensive because “he has nothing to lose as a bankrupt”.

He said he was also made aware of attempts to invoke a ‘MeToo’ campaign.

“That will not happen, because they are abusing the movement for their own selfish ends,” he added, referring to the movement against sexual harassment where victims come out openly with allegations of sex crimes against them by prominent persons.

‘Blackmail’

He said early this year, he was blackmailed by several individuals who wanted to take over his NGO’s leadership, a Muslim movement with a progressive stance on contemporary Islamic issues.

“They gave me an ultimatum that I should step down or they would go to town with claims that I molested the trainee doctor.”

He said the fact that the police report, lodged in February, was not followed up showed that there was no case.

“But when I didn’t step down, they went to see the police with a group of NGO lawyers recently.

“Evidently, the complainant had no case until they decided to publicise the news to pressure the police to investigate,” he added.

He said part of the campaign against him probably stemmed from his refusal to condemn French Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan, who was charged with rape earlier this year.

This, he said, angered some activists.

“One group was angry at me for defending Tariq Ramadan, and then launched a concerted attack via Facebook on my credibility which was then accentuated by the media.

“That led the police to ask me to give a statement to them today,” he told FMT.

He said he was happy that the police decided to investigate.

“I welcome any investigation because it will be an opportunity for me to clear my name,” he said.

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