The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) has defended religious freedom, amid reports that Ahmadiah followers in Selangor are facing threats.
In a statement to FMT, Suhakam chairman Razali Ismail said the commission’s stand was that everyone should have the freedom to adopt a religion or belief of their choice either individually or in a community, in public or in private.
“They shall have the freedom to manifest their religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teachings.”
He was commenting on reports that the small community of Ahmadiah followers in Kampung Nakhoda, Batu Caves, are living in fear following threats against their members at a press conference hosted by the Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia (PPIM) last week.
“Further, no one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice,” said Razali.
Ahmadiah is a Muslim sect originating from the Indian subcontinent. It was ruled as “deviant” by the National Fatwa Council. The sect is also condemned in Friday sermons throughout Selangor to remind Muslims that it is not part of Islam.
For decades, followers of Ahmadiah at the Baitusalam, a three-storey building in Kampung Nakhoda, Batu Caves, have lived peacefully with the locals, despite occasional harassment by Islamic religious officials.
Meanwhile, Gombak police have advised any party unhappy with the presence of Ahmadiah followers in the village against taking the law into their own hands.
Speaking to FMT, Gombak OCPD Ali Ahmad said, so far, no police reports had been lodged by anyone about being threatened.
“If someone has been threatened, they should step forward and lodge a report. If they are reluctant to make a report, they should come and see us.”
This way, he said, police could track down the person who was making the threats.
He also said Gombak police had not received any report from the villagers of Kampung Nakhoda about uneasiness over the presence of the Ahmadiah followers.
“Even if it involves religious matters, they still have to lodge a police report. If there is a need for criminal investigation, we will do it. If it involves deviant teachings, we will refer to the Islamic religious department for further action.
“At the same time, we will monitor the situation, as we are doing now. I urge the parties involved to lodge a report and we will look into all aspects. Don’t take matters into your own hands.”
At the PPIM press conference on Sept 27, Masridzi Sat, a spokesman for a group calling itself Gerakan Banteras Aktiviti Haram (GBAH), urged state Islamic authorities to act against Baitusalam, which for decades has been a meeting point for followers of Ahmadiah.
He hinted that the failure of the authorities to close down the centre would mean his group taking the law into their own hands.
FMT has contacted the Selayang Municipal Council for comment and is awaiting a response.-FMT