Disagreeing With Shia Islam Not Enough To Justify Raids Says Rights Group


Dozens of Shia Muslim followers, including foreigners, have been arrested in the raids on private Shia Muslim functions.PETALING JAYA: Rights group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) today criticised the recent crackdown on followers of Shia Islam in Selangor and Johor, calling it a coordinated campaign of harassment by state religious authorities
LFL director Melissa Sasidaran said the raids, which have seen scores of people arrested, contravene international human rights law which guarantees the right to freedom of religion and protects individuals from discrimination by the government and any state institution on the grounds of religion or belief
“By international standards, limitations on the freedom of religion can only be justified if they are necessary for the protection of public safety, order, health or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others
“Merely disagreeing with the teachings and practices of Shia Islam is not a sufficient ground for these harsh actions,” she said in a statement
Dozens of Shia Muslim followers, including foreigners, were arrested in the raids on private Shia Muslim functions as adherents observed the Ashura, the death anniversary of Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad and a central figure in Shia Islam
Shia, which has a substantial following in Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Bahrain, Lebanon and several parts of Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Pakistan, is the second largest branch of Islam
But state Islamic authorities have declared its teachings “deviant”, with sermons in Selangor frequently condemning its followers as heretics
Sasidaran said Article 11 of the Federal Constitution states that every person has the right to profess and practise his or her religion
“Yet our religious authorities commonly fall back on Article 11(4), which limits the propagation of any religious doctrine among Muslims, to justify their actions
“Any interpretation of this which would allow the authorities unbridled and arbitrary powers to oppress Shia Muslims is erroneous, and amounts to a disproportionate restriction on freedom of religion,” she said
She added that those who were arrested had not committed any genuine crimes or caused anyone harm, but had been practising their faith behind closed doors in private ceremonies
“Such raids are an unacceptable intrusion into the lives and dignity of Shia Muslims,” she said
“If Malaysia truly is the harmonious, multicultural and multi-religious society that it claims to be, we must accept the practice of every religion, including Shia Islam.” - FMT

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