Johor follows Singapore’s move in banning 2 Islamic preachers
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KUALA LUMPUR — Johor has banned two Islamic preachers from giving religious talks in the state, a day after Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister said Putrajaya has no issues with the clerics’ conduct.
Johor Islamic Religious Affairs Committee chairman Abdul Mutalip Abdul Rahim said the Sultan of Johor decreed on Wednesday (Nov 1) that Zimbabwean Mufti Ismail Menk and Malaysian Haslin Baharim not be allowed to preach in the southern state.
“The content of their previous speeches appear to promote racial and religious unrest, which disrupts harmony between the races,” Malay daily Berita Harian quoted him as saying.
“The Johor Islamic Religious Department will continue monitoring religious talks in this state to ensure there are no elements or views that encourages racial disunity from being delivered.”
Johor’s decision mirrors the move by Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) who two days ago banned Mr Haslin and Mr Menk — better known as Mufti Menk — from setting foot to Singapore after the authorities learned that the duo were to preach on an Islamic-themed cruise which will depart and end in Singapore from Nov 25 to 29.
The authorities had previously rejected the two men’s miscellaneous work pass applications to preach in Singapore, added MHA.
Johor is the first state in Malaysia to bar Mr Haslin and Mr Menk from giving religious talks.
Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said on Tuesday that the country has no plans to follow Singapore’s footsteps in barring two preachers from giving talks as they have not violated any laws or promoted views detrimental to national harmony.
“It is their (Singapore’s) right to do so as they have their own laws,” he said.
“We have no intention to stop them (from speaking) since they have not broken any laws.”
MHA said on Monday that Singapore had previously rejected the two men’s miscellaneous work pass applications to preach in the Republic.
Mr Menk has been banned from preaching in Singapore since 2015, while Mr Haslin’s work pass application was rejected earlier this year.
A work pass is required to preach in Singapore, but not on a cruise ship.
Having been known to preach “segregationist and divisive teachings”, MHA said that Mr Menk for instance, has propagated that it is the “biggest sin and crime” for a Muslim to exchange Merry Christmas or Happy Deepavali greetings with non-Muslims.
MHA also noted that Mr Haslin has expressed views that promote disharmony between Muslims and non-Muslims, who he describes as “deviant”.
Singapore’s ban comes a few weeks after Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam told Parliament that MHA is looking to tighten processes to ensure foreign preachers with divisive teachings do not come here to preach.
Following Singapore’s move, Mr Haslin said he planned to seek an explanation from the Singaporean authorities and did not rule out taking legal action.
Mr Menk, meanwhile, claimed at he had been asked by the organisers of a “halal cruise” earlier this year to be a part of it and he had agreed.
“To imply that I was using the cruise ‘to get around the ban by preaching instead on cruise ships which operate to and from Singapore’ is erroneous. I have never been on a cruise before, let alone give lectures on board. This was purely for a humanitarian mission to Banda Aceh,” he said. AGENCIES