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Back Activities Alerts ACTION ALERT: Malaysia – Raid on Ashura gathering

ACTION ALERT: Malaysia – Raid on Ashura gathering

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200 arrested including the local Aalim(cleric) as well as the visiting aalim(cleric/speaker) from Iran.


Contents
1. Summary
2. Background
3. Action required
4. Sample letter


1. Summary

During the Ashura commemoration event on 16th December 2010, JAIS (state religious authority in Malaysia) raided the Hauzah ar-Redah in Gombak, State of Selangor and arrested 200 people including the local Aalim(cleric) as well as the visiting aalim(cleric/speaker) from Iran.  While all of the attendees at this event seem to now have been released, the two clerics were released on bail and will be appearing at a hearing on 20th January.  At this point in time, it is not clear what the grounds for arrest were as well as a lack of clarity around what the charges are likely to be in court.

 

2. Background

Today, the Malay newspapers in Malaysia carried this story on their front pages in terms of a shia threat and language reminiscent of a culture of demonization of shias within Malaysia.  This is in stark contrast to the English newspapers in Malaysia which carried the story of the suspension of the leader of the opposition coalition, Ibrahim Anwar, and the walkout of the opposition from parliament. 

While this may be a mere coincidence, IHRC is worried by the suggestion that the government has used the tool of sectarian demonization in its efforts to deflect scrutiny of its political actions amongst the Malay speaking masses.  The Malaysian government should take its responsibilities more seriously and not promote this sectarianism which can have dangerous consequences.

Malaysian authorities are bound by international as well as national laws to protect all religious groups from any form of discrimination.

 

3. Action required

Write to the Malaysian ambassador in your vicinity, demanding an explanation for such heavy handed techniques and the start of a culture of demonization.

International campaigners can find their local Malaysian embassy from this website:

Malaysian embassies

UK campaigners will find contact details in the sample letter provided.


4. Sample letter
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A sample letter is given below for your convenience. Please note that model letters can be sent directly or adjusted as necessary to include further details. If you receive a reply to the letter you send, we request you to send a copy of the letter you sent and the reply you received to IHRC. This is very important as it helps IHRC to monitor the situation with regards to our campaigns and to improve upon the current model letters. It is preferable that letters be sent via post, or otherwise by fax and/or email.

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(UK campaigners can write using the address supplied below, fax: +44-207-235-5161or email: mwlon@btconnect.com)

[Your name]
[Your address]

Your Excellency, Datuk Abd. Aziz Mohammed 
45 Belgrave Square
Belgravia
London
SW1X 8QT
United Kingdom

[Date]

Your Excellency, Datuk Abd. Aziz Mohammed 

Re: Raid on Ashura gathering

I am deeply concerned after learning of the police raid on an Ashura religious gathering where 200 people including the Imam and the visiting Aalim from Iran were arrested on 16th December 2010.  Although they have all been subsequently released, the two clerics are due to be charged on 20th January 2011.  I sincerely hope that this is not the way Malaysian authorities treat their religious minorities. 

The reason I carry such a concern is due to the media coverage of the incident. The portrayal was of a shia threat to Malaysian society by national media. This demonization however was not prevalent in English newspapers, which rather carried the story of the suspension of the leader of the opposition coalition, Ibrahim Anwar, and the walkout of the opposition from parliament.
 I feel that the government has used the tool of sectarian demonization in its efforts to deflect scrutiny of its political actions amongst the Malay speaking masses, which will only result in disharmony and tension within society.

You have a responsibility to ensure the safety and welfare of all religious groups in Malaysia and protect them from demonization. Not only are you bound by international law to uphold such principles but also by your own national laws. I suggest you consider carefully the results of such misguided actions on the normal every day people of Malaysia who merely expect and are entitled to worship freely without any form of discrimination.

I would like to urge you to bring my concerns to the attention of the relevant authorities so that these politically driven charges are dropped before the sectarian nature of the media coverage is fuelled further and the demonisation of a minority results in marginalisation and possibly worse. 
 
I look forward to hearing from you that this matter has been brought to a satisfactory conclusion.

Yours sincerely,


[Your signature]
[Your name]

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For more information, please contact the office on the numbers or email below

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For more information, please contact the office on the numbers or email below.

"And what reason have you that you should not fight in the way of Allah and of the weak among the men and the women and the children, (of) those who say: Our Lord! Cause us to go forth from this town, whose people are oppressors, and give us from Thee a guardian and give us from Thee a helper."
Holy Qur'an: Chapter 4, Verse 75

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