PAS spiritual leader Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat has declined to comment on PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar's controversial statement on religious freedom on the grounds that the statement was frontpaged by Utusan Malaysia, which is not a credible publication.

NONE“I was asked about the statement by PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah regarding the freedom to choose religion.

“I noticed that the newspaper that published this issue on (the) frontpage is a newspaper that has several times been defeated in court cases due to publication of false and inaccurate reports.

“Hence I consider it inappropriate to give comment based only on the report of this newspaper,” he said on Facebook last night.

The Kelantan Menteri Besar appeared to be taking a leaf from PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu's book.

Yesterday Mohamad also refused to weigh in on the issue citing the same reason.

“We have to check first, because it is coming from Utusan. Utusan always loses (lawsuits)”.

The Umno-owned daily today continued to dedicate its headline and give major coverage to comments attacking Nurul.

NONEIn it, PAS deputy youth chief Nik Mohamad Abduh Nik Abdul Aziz (left), who is also Nik Aziz's son, blasted Nurul for misinterpreting the Quran.

He told Utusan that verse 256 Surah Al-Baqarah of the Quran, which was quoted by Nurul to back her argument that there is no compulsion in Islam, only applies to non-Muslims.

His view was shared by Johor PAS chief Mahfodz Mohamed, who also gave an interview to Utusan.

'Irresponsible to interpret Nurul's statement'

However, Nurul received support from Islamic scholar Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin and PAS national unity bureau chief Mujahid Yusof Rawa.

Asri, who is former Perlis mufti, told Malay daily Sinar Harian that Nurul's remark could be misunderstood because it is a general statement that said nobody can be forced to accept religion.

He reached the conclusion after he viewed the video recording of Nurul's speech and received her explanation.

Meanwhile Mujahid, who is Parit Buntar MP, said it is irresponsible to interpret Nurul's statement of “no compulsion in religion” as encouraging apostasy.

NONEDuring a public forum on “Islamic State: Which version; Whose responsibility?” in Subang Jaya last Saturday, Nurul (right) reportedly said that no one should be compelled to adopt a particular religion and that this applies to Malays as well.

But she also added that she was tied to the prevailing views in the country.

Utusan on Monday frontpaged Malaysiakini's report on Nurul's statement under the headline “Melayu bebas pilih agama? (Are Malays free to choose religion?)”.

The Lembah Pantai MP subsequently denied that her statement encourages Muslims to renounce Islam.