Pahang mufti under police probe over remarks

Mufti Abdul Rahman caused anger and alarm after he used the term "kafir harbi" last week.
Mufti Abdul Rahman caused anger and alarm after he used the term "kafir harbi" last week.

He sparked outrage by saying people and parties who oppose Islamic laws can be killed

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysian police are investigating a Pahang mufti in connection with his remarks that people and political parties like the Democratic Action Party (DAP) are "kafir harbi" - non-believers who can be slain - as they are against the implementation of Islamic laws.

Malaysia's police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said two police reports have been made against Mufti Abdul Rahman Osman. In Malaysia, a mufti is the highest government-appointed Islamic official in a state.

"I urge everyone not to make any statement that can compromise racial and religious harmony in the country," said the Inspector-General of Police.

"As a multiracial and multi-religious country, we should refrain from hurting one another with our words and actions," he said on Wednesday.

The remarks last week by Mufti Abdul Rahman from eastern Pahang state caused anger and alarm in Malaysia, especially among politicians and non-Muslims.

They are particularly concerned because the term "kafir harbi" has never been used against a political enemy in Malaysia, despite the often robust debates in the country's political arena.

The term refers to non-Muslims who have waged war against Islam, and for whom the death penalty is justified.

Mufti Abdul Rahman told the Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia daily last Friday that the Chinese-based DAP belonged to that particular group of non-believers as it "clearly opposes hudud and the Bill on the Syariah Court on punishments".

The mufti was showing his support for Parti Islam SeMalaysia president Abdul Hadi Awang, who presented a Bill on Syariah Court amendments in Parliament recently, which led to a pushback from non-Muslims, including the DAP.

The Council of Churches of Malaysia (CCM) said on Wednesday that it was alarmed by the remarks.

"It is, to date, one of the most divisive and provocative statements made by a state official, which creates suspicion and disunity in a multiracial society," CCM general-secretary Hermen Shastri was quoted as saying in a statement, on the Malaysiakini news site.

"In a country which seeks to uphold the rule of law and declares that all Malaysian citizens are equal before the law, this statement is wholly inconsistent with that objective."

Meanwhile, a pro-opposition non- governmental organisation, Malaysian Solidarity for Young People, said on Tuesday that the mufti's comments were "very, very dangerous".

"For regular people, anything the mufti says is a fatwa (an Islamic edict), and for regular people, 'kafir harbi' means a group that must be battled, and there are those who perceive that they can be killed," said the group's chief Badrul Hisham Shaharin.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 01, 2016, with the headline 'Pahang mufti under police probe over remarks'. Print Edition | Subscribe