Zaid: Insulting ulama not akin to mocking Islam

Datuk Zaid Ibrahim says while it may be disrespectful to hurl insults towards individuals regarded as important to the Muslim community, the act cannot not be deemed as criminal. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 21 ― Making rude comments about the ulama cannot be equated to insulting Islam itself, nor is it blasphemy because no one is equal to God, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim said today.

The former de facto law minister also said while it may be disrespectful to hurl insults towards individuals regarded as important to the Muslim community, the act cannot not be deemed as criminal.

“There is a variety of speeches and actions that can constitute blasphemy in Islam, for example insulting Allah or His messenger the Holy Prophet Muhammad. But I don’t think one should equate a PAS leader — or even a Mufti — with Allah or the Prophet,” Zaid said in his latest blog post.

“If I wanted to say something rude about Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang or Nasrudin Hassan Tantawi, it’s not blasphemy. Some people might be so high on Islam’s list of spiritual persons that we should probably not make fun of them out of personal respect, but no one is equal to Allah. Insulting them should not attract a criminal charge”.

Abdul Hadi is the current PAS president while the latter is the party’s information chief.

Weighing in on the controversial arrest of a former journalist over a comment he allegedly made about the death of PAS spiritual leader Datuk Dr Haron Din, Zaid argued that Muslims should not set their political leaders on pedestals so high that they cannot be criticised or made the subject of rude comments.

“They should not jump straightaway to the conclusion that, because some of their leaders who wear turban was ridiculed, Islam has been insulted,” said Zaid.

He said being overly sensitive about the criticism or rude comments made about their leaders would only draw more ridicule.

“When you are in politics, you are not protected from insults even when you die,” he wrote.

Former reporter Sidek Kamiso was arrested on the early hours of Monday over his alleged tweet on Haron’s death. It was deemed by the police as an insult to Islam.

Sidek’s wife Norlin Wan Musa said that several plainclothes officers had entered their Petaling Jaya house at 4.30am to arrest her husband without explaining why he was arrested, later learning that he was taken to Johor for a police probe.

Zaid condemned the arrest and criticised the police for the manner in which the arrest was conducted, questioning its legitimacy as the detention was done without warrant as required under the law.

“The arrest was made at 4.30am, according to Sidek’s lawyer, and he was brought to Johor to be remanded. He was being treated like a jihadist from Islamic state. It was almost like a special operation by the police.

“No warrant was issued, like it was an arrestable (serious) offence. He was just tweeting, for God’s sake, and how serious can that be?” the former minister wrote.

Zaid also questioned why the police needed to request for a remand order to detain the former reporter. He said the protocol is to complete investigations first before making an arrest.

“This is the reason why they always ask for remand orders but, again, it is an abuse of power: the law says that all arrests should be made after proper investigations. It is only in exceptional cases where investigations of complicated cases are still incomplete — and there is a likelihood of the suspect not cooperating or absconding — that a remand order is issued to facilitate the investigation.

“I say again: remand orders do not exist to make police-work less difficult by allowing the arrest of suspects without a proper investigation,” he said. – Malay Mail Online

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