KUALA LUMPUR: Putrajaya today defended the arrest of Mustafa Akyol by Islamic authorities last month, saying the Turkish writer was also bound by a requirement that anyone speaking on topics of Islam must get official teaching credentials.
“Every speaker wanting to hold programmes in the form of lectures in Malaysia must get permission and credentials from the state religious department or the relevant state mufti,” Jamil Khir Baharom, the minister in charge of Islamic affairs, told the Dewan Rakyat today in a written reply to Teresa Kok (DAP-Seputeh).
Kok had asked if public lectures and speeches on Islam including in universities must also get clearance from religious authorities.
On Sept 25, Akyol was arrested by the Federal Territory Islamic Department (Jawi) at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), as he was preparing to board a flight to Rome after completing a lecture tour organised by Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF).
Jawi said Akyol violated an offence under the Syariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act which requires Islamic speakers to get “tauliah”, a rule normally applicable to those who speak on Islam in mosques and suraus.
Akyol had expressed surprise at the requirement.
“I don’t claim to be a mufti or imam with religious authority,” he told FMT hours before departing Malaysia.
“I just had referred to the more liberal views in Islamic tradition, from an academic perspective, and the fact that even this raises alarm is puzzling to me,” he said.
Akyol’s lectures, which focuses on freedom of speech in Muslim societies, drew protests from some conservative Muslim groups.