KUALA LUMPUR, June 23: Former Perlis state mufti Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin (right)has condemned the government's recent allegation that he and several other leaders were linked to Wahhabism and therefore were security threats.
In a joint statement with the current Perlis mufti Dr Juanda Jaya (left), who is also said to be one of the targets of a government campaign, Asri described the label on them as malicious and "clearly something which is being concocted".
"Malaysians are aware of our line of thought which is progressive and advocates racial and religious harmony, and opposes fanaticism," he said.
Yesterday, news portal Malaysiakini reported that several religious and political figures in the country were named as followers of Wahhabism during a government briefing for police officials and academicians about the recent arrests of what the authorities claimed were members of Jemaah Islamiyah trying to stage terrorist attacks in the country.
Earlier today, PAS president rubbished the label of Wahhabism against him, saying that although he studied in Saudi Arabia "with a Wahhabi scholarship", he has his own opinion. Hadi further said the labelling of Muslims was an age-old Western tactic to undermine Muslim activists.
Wahhabism is the name given to a sect which flourished in the Arabian peninsula during the early years of the establishment of the present Saudi kingdom. The sect is named after its founder Abdul Wahhab, but takes shape in different forms of Islamic thought, usually deemed radical and sectarian in its approach on Islamic matters.
Truth in Pakatan Rakyat's claim: Asri
Among the others named by the Islamic Training Institute's deputy director Zamihan Mat Zin (left) were PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang and former Perlis menteri besar Shahidan Kassim, and the Muslim NGO Jemaah Islah Malaysia (JIM).
Asri blasted the allegations against Hadi and Muslim group Jemaah Islah Malaysia.
"He (Hadi) is the former MB of Terengganu. He heads a political party. This shows his commitment to democracy and to the people's right to choose," said Asri, adding that such an accusation bordered on fitnah (false accusation) and was an insult to a political party which works within the democratic system.
"Zamihan and the police must take responsibility over this lie," he added.
Similarly, Asri defended Shahidan, saying as a former Perlis MB and social activist, he did not deserve to be linked to terrorist activities.
"It looks like UMNO and BN are willing to sacrifice their own friends to push forward the political interest of certain parties," he said.
He said the police owed an explanation to the people over the "wild accusations", and questioned Zamihan which he said was linked to one Hasan al-Saqqah, a deviant Muslim preacher who had accused other Muslims of disbelief and was now being investigated by the Jordanian authorities.
Asri said there was truth in the claims by several political and community leaders who said the issue was being staged to divert attention from other problems.
"There is some truth after all in what has been said by some community leaders, such as by S.M.Idris and the Pakatan Rakyat, that the issue has no basis.
"It could be a dirty political game by the ruling government to deflect attention from certain issues," said Asri.