The police have today questioned a co-organiser of a forum where Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar ostensibly said Malay should be accorded religious freedom, according to human rights lawyer Fadiah Nadwa Fikri.

This is in relation to a letter written by Malaysiakini reader Steve Oh on Nurul’s statement, which is now being investigated under Section 298 for “uttering words ... with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person.”

Fadiah said investigating officer ASP Nadzri Harun quizzed her client Ehsan Shahwahid from 11am to noon about the forum, its organisers and participants, what was said during the forum, and why was it held in a church.

However, she said Ehsan, who is the executive officer of the NGO Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) did not answer the questions because the information is already publicly available, that nothing has been denied, and there is no clear basis to ask the questions.

When this was pointed out, Fadiah said Nadzri had replied, “We need to know from a Malay participants who attended the forum ... because Malays are Muslims. Steve Oh has offended Islam.”

Fadiah said she then pointed out that she had attended the forum but did not feel offended, only to have Nadzri demanding to record her statement as well. She declined, stressing that her purpose was only to accompany Ehsan.

When asked why did he wanted statements from Malays and what is wrong with them attending forums, Fadiah claimed that Nadzri replied, “Because Malays are Muslims, we are here to protect the religion.”

'Pure harassment'
She claimed that Nadzri kept repeating similar statements throughout the questioning, including when pointed out that the Inspector-General of Police Ismail Omar had said that the police are “merely assisting” Selangor Islamic Religious Department’s (Jais) investigations into Nurul’s remarks.

She also claimed that Nadzri said the police are “merely investigating” and are not planning to press charges.

“The information is already out there, about the forum, about what Nurul said. Nobody is denying anything about the letter, nobody is denying about the statement made. Even Nurul said she had said such things at the forum.

“They can get the information. Why are they dragging people to the police station? If that is an offence, why can’t they just charge people in court so that people can defend themselves in court?

“It is a total waste of time, energy and resources. It is pure harassment, I would say,” she said.

She said she was also shown a copy of the police report made against Oh’s letter, but found that it contained no clues on why it may be offensive.

“It is not detailed to which part. It is really, really short. It says about sedition, it says about Islam, it says about Steve Oh’s letter on Malaysiakini’s website,” she said.

Nadzri had visited Malaysiakini’s office twice last week over the letter, first to question its staff, then to obtain Oh’s email address, with the author’s consent.