G25 is dismayed, concerned and saddened over reports that the Home Ministry is continuing to employ preacher Zamihan Mat Zin as a “specialist consultant” in rehabilitating and deradicalising the police detainees held for their involvement with extremist groups especially ISIS.
We believe that as Zamihan himself is an extremist by his words and personal conduct, the employment of such a person by the ministry and paid from public funds, sends a wrong message that religious extremism is acceptable in our society and deserves to be rewarded if it helps to advance the government’s Islamic agenda.
G25 views his employment as utter disrespect to the Sultan of Johor who called Zamihan out as a liar after Zamihan had denied his clear criticisms against the Sultan, and to the Sultan of Selangor who had revoked Zamihan’s preaching credentials or ‘tauliah’ following Zamihan’s racist and disrespectful lecture.
Zamihan’s views are not only insulting to the non-Muslims but could also cause serious tensions in our multi-religious and multiracial society.
We hope that the ministry is not employing Zamihan in the belief that it takes a thief to catch a thief. With his background, there is a risk that Zamihan may influence the detainees into the wrong path.
Instead of rehabilitating them to understand the multicultural diversity of the country and the need for Malaysians to show tolerance for our differences, commitment to Wasatiyyah (the middle path/moderation), and to respect the federal constitution, the rule of law and the Rukun Negara, he may use religion to advocate for an Islamic state in Malaysia.
The continued employment of Zamihan makes a mockery of the government’s declaration that Malaysia is a model for moderation in Islam.
When extremist preachers like Zamihan and Zakir Naik are given VIP treatment at the highest levels of government, the claim that Malaysia is a moderate Muslim country will ring hollow to the outside world and to our own people.
The damage to Malaysia’s reputation has been done. As a result of the treatment received by Mustafa Akyol, the US-based Turkish scholar who was detained for 17 hours by Jawi for questioning and released only after royal intervention, the word has spread around the world that Malaysia is not a safe country for scholars to talk in open forum on Islam.
This is a huge disappointment to the academic and NGO community and represents a major threat to intellectual freedom in the country.
The employment of Zamihan by the Home Ministry will further add to the fears about religious dictatorship in Malaysia.
G25 is a group of influential Malays and as a civil society organisation wants to play a constructive role as the voice of moderation on religion.