JOHOR BARU • Johor has banned two Islamic preachers from giving religious lectures, a day after Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said Malaysia would still allow the duo to preach.
Johor's decision followed Monday's move by Singapore to ban Zimbabwean Ismail Menk and Malaysian Haslin Baharim from entering the Republic for their "divisive views" when speaking about other religions.
Johor's Religious Affairs Committee chairman Abdul Mutalip Abd Rahim Sultan said the move was a decree from Johor's Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar that was issued yesterday, Malaysia's Berita Harian newspaper reported.
Singapore had barred entry to Mr Menk and Mr Haslin as their hardline teachings ran counter to the Republic's multicultural and multi-religious values.
"The content of the speeches that the two preachers have delivered previously could disrupt the harmony between the races," Mr Abdul Mutalip was quoted as saying.
"The Johor Islamic Religious Department will continue to monitor religious talks in the state in order to ensure that there are no elements or views that encourage racial disunity from being delivered," he told the paper.
Under Malaysian law, each of the 13 states has direct jurisdiction over matters of religion, water and land.
THREAT TO RACIAL HARMONY
The content of the speeches that the two preachers have delivered previously could disrupt the harmony between the races.
MR ABDUL MUTALIP ABD RAHIM SULTAN, Johor's Religious Affairs Committee chairman, on Islamic preachers Ismail Menk and Haslin Baharim.
The Johor ban means the duo can still enter the state but not give public lectures.
Datuk Seri Zahid, who is also Home Minister, had said on Tuesday that the speeches of the two men had "not suggested anything that goes against our understanding of cultural and religious diversity to the point of causing social, racial and religious tensions in Malaysia".
The Sultan of Johor has recently made decrees over Islamic issues that attracted widespread media coverage in the region.
Sultan Ibrahim last month stopped a Muslim-only launderette in the state, saying: "This is not a Taleban state and as the Head of Islam in Johor, I find this action to be totally unacceptable as this is extremist in nature."
The launderette owner in Muar town in north-west Johor has now opened his shop to everyone.
The ruler later ordered Johor's Islamic religious department to stop dealing with the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim), a federal government agency, after Jakim preacher Zamihan Mat Zin indirectly criticised the Sultan over the launderette issue.
Sultan Ibrahim also gave Mr Zamihan a dressing-down. "I take him as an empty vessel without brains," the ruler said in a public speech on Oct 14. "The way he talked was arrogant and proud, as if he is the only one who is right and he mocked other races."
Singapore's Ministry of Home Affairs on Monday said the decision to bar the two preachers - who are popular in Malaysia - was made in consultation with the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, the Singapore Tourism Board and the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore.
It said Mr Menk is known to preach "segregationist and divisive teachings", while Mr Haslin had described non-Muslims as "deviant".
The ministry also said both men had been engaged to preach on a religious-themed cruise departing from Singapore on Nov 25 and returning on Nov 29.