Wednesday 10 August 2011

Jais alleges bid to convert Muslims at dinner

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 10 — Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) is investigating the organisers of a thanksgiving dinner held on church premises last week for attempting to convert Muslims.

Lim Heng Seng, lawyer for 10 of the 12 Muslims present at the “1Malaysia Muhibbah Fundraising Dinner” at Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC), said the department confirmed this in a letter sent today.
“Jais informed that they are investigating a case involving the offence of persuading, influencing or inciting a Muslim to change his faith under section 4 of the Non-Islamic Religions Enactment 1988,” he said in a statement today, clarifying his client’s absence from turning up at the Jais office.

Section 4 of the enactment makes it an offence for a person to “persuade, influence or incite” a Muslim to be inclined to any non-Islamic religion, become a follower or member of a non-Islamic religion or forsake or disfavour Islam.

Those found guilty of the offence face a jail term not more than one year or a fine of RM10,000 or both.
Jais had been responding to a letter from Lim enquiring into the legal provision under which his clients were being asked to report to the state religious authority for “pre-counselling sessions”.

Jais enforcement officers raided the fundraising dinner last Wednesday night without a warrant after receiving an unspecified complaint, bringing with them a team of policemen.

Between 100 and 120 people, including a dozen Muslims, attended the non-religious event to celebrate Harapan Komuniti’s success in helping women, children, HIV/AIDS sufferers and victims of natural disasters.
The Non-Islamic Religions Enactment, which outlines offences deemed as acts of proselytisation by non-Muslims towards Muslims, grants the religious authorities powers to launch investigations and arrest individuals without producing a warrant.

The raid caused a public uproar, and the Selangor government under Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim has since demanded a report from Jais explaining the raid.

But Muslim lobby groups have rallied behind Jais and Selangor executive councillor for religious matters Datuk Hasan Ali, who defended the raid by claiming that the words “pray” and “Quran” were used in the presence of Muslims who had attended the dinner.

This was among the evidence cited as proof by the former PAS Selangor chief that Christians had attempted to convert Muslims during the function.

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