Monday 8 August 2011

Muslim lawyers warn Jais against sharing probe info

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 8 — The Malaysian Muslim Lawyers Association (MMLA) today backed the Selangor Islamic Religious Department’s (Jais) “legal” church raid last week and cautioned the agency against revealing details of its investigation in public.

The association said there was no need for Jais to curry favour with any political party, saying the agency was merely carrying out its lawful duties when it acted on a complaint that Christians were proselytising to Muslims at the church last Wednesday.

MMLA secretary-general Abdul Hamin Bahari also warned all politicians today against issuing reckless statements on the issue, saying that Jais should be allowed to carry out its duties without revealing the facts of its case as it could jeopardise its investigation.

“However, should there be any charges made later, Jais will have to bear the burden of proof in court. So MMLA urges all politicians to stop politicising this matter, whether it is to release open statements on the investigation or to use the issue as an opportunity to garner support,” he said.

Jais raided the Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC) at the Dream Centre in Petaling Jaya last Wednesday during a dinner function that saw the attendance of 12 Muslims.

The agency was purportedly acting on a complaint that Muslims were spotted among those at the dinner, and was said to have found proof later that Christians were attempting to convert them during the function.

The raid had caused uproar among religious communities, and the Selangor government under Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim has since demanded a report from Jais to explain the raid.

But MMLA insisted today that Jais had acted lawfully and expressed disappointment at the “ignorance” of those who thought otherwise.

“Jais had acted within the provisions of the Constitution and state enactments. The check (on DUMC) was clearly based on a complaint that Jais must investigate, as an agency tasked to take such action.

“Clearly, all these statements made (against Jais) were not based on facts, were irresponsible and were aimed at belittling the status of Islam in the country,” Abdul Hamin said.

He pointed to Section 10 of the Syariah Criminal Offences Enactment 1995, which Selangor state executive councillor Datuk Hassan Ali had also highlighted last week, saying the complaint had been based on the suspicion that Islam was being insulted.

Section 9 of the Syariah Criminal Procedure Enactment (Selangor) 2003 also stipulates that any individual who knows of an act or intention of any persons to commit any offence must immediately provide such information to the religious authorities or the police, he added.

“Hence, what Jais did was within their powers. MMLA would like to again stress that in matters involving the administration of Islam, no one should interfere, especially in issuing statements that could confuse and insult Islam and Islamic institutions,” he said.

The Malaysian Insider reported over the weekend that Jais had likely acted lawfully during the raid as a controversial enactment passed by a Barisan Nasional (BN) government in 1988 allows the agency to act against non-Muslims.

Selangor’s Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Amongst Muslims) 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.

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