The Kita president defends the right of Muslims to religious freedom which he says is enshrined under Article 11.PETALING JAYA: Kita president Zaid Ibrahim said the controversial church raid by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (JAIS) would not have taken place had Article 11 of the Federal Constitution been upheld.
More than 30 police and JAIS officers stormed a thanksgiving dinner at the Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC) premises last Wednesday.
The authorities claimed they had received a complaint that Christians were attempting to convert the 12 Muslims present at the dinner that night. Until today, no evidence or details of the complaint had been made public.
Zaid however pointed out that the true essence of Article 11 forbade proselytising to Muslims but acknowledged a Muslim’s right to religious freedom.
“Kita believes that this freedom belongs to everyone – Muslims and non-Muslims – and is a fundamental right of every human being,” he said in a statement today.
“We believe it is cruel for anyone to be forced to accept a religious belief or faith that he or she in all good conscience has renounced or refuses to believe in.”
The lawyer-turned-politician warned of similar raids in other parts of the country and of more Muslims being punished for exercising their freedom to believe.
“There will be more confusion and an escalating war of attrition among religious communities,” he predicted. “State laws will continue empowering officers to make arrests and raid premises so that they can make sure Muslims are not in the company of evangelical Christians.”
Zaid rapped JAIS of being too duty-bound in preventing Muslims from exercising their right to convert instead of understanding what “lies inside the heart of Muslims”.
“JAIS is simply happy to punish and imprison someone like Kamariah Ali (a follower of Ayah Pin) and regard her as a deviant Muslim,” he said. “It does not matter what her true beliefs are, just as it does not matter if she is happy with the faith.”
Silence from the Pakatan camp
The former PKR supreme council member also said that the Pakatan Rakyat component parties would not support the true meaning of Article 11 for different reasons.
PAS, he said, would not step up because of its belief that freedom of choice would give a “lesser” Muslim the opportunity to deviate from the faith.
He added that PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim would not risk his chances of becoming prime minister while DAP would be concerned about losing votes and Penang.
“That explains why the great defenders of freedom in Pakatan had to issue a gag order. Don’t address sensitive issues, is what they seem to be saying… get to Putrajaya first,” he said.
Zaid said hat the issue would be dealt with differently under a Kita-run government as the party was the only one in the country fearless enough to defend Article 11.
“We would refer Article 11 to a properly constituted Constitutional Court,” he said.
“If the court was to hold that Article 11 applies to Muslims as well, then they would not need to hide in church premises to exercise their beliefs.
“And agencies such as JAIS would not need the power to trespass and ransack private properties to look for possible converts. Our motto would be, ‘To each his own’.
“If the Constitutional Court rules that the intent of Article 11 is not to accord religious freedom to Muslims as well then we would need to amend the Federal Constitution,” he continued.
“We would insert an all empowering Article stating that all laws must conform to the Quran, and that laws contravening Islamic tenets and practices would be void. Islamic tenets and Islamic practices, in this case, would be those that are approved by the Conference of Rulers,” he said.
According to Zaid, the problem today is that Malaysia had a secular Federal Constitution but politically wanted Muslim laws to be the primary governing instrument.
And the politicians, he claimed, would not touch a crucial issue if it meant jeopardising their popularity.
“Some will continue to express anger and frustration, but nothing will change,” he said. “Kita is the only party that is truly ready and capable of making that change happen.” - FMT