World

Johor follows Singapore's lead, bans two Islamic preachers

The move was a decree from Johor Sultan that was issued yesterday

JOHOR BARU: Johor has banned two Islamic preachers from giving religious talks after Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the country will still allow the two clerics to preach.

Singapore had on Monday barred entry to Zimbabwean Ismail Menk and Malaysian Haslin Baharim as their hardline teachings ran counter to the Republic's multi-cultural and multi-religious values.

Johor's Religious Affairs Committee chairman Abdul Mutalip Abd Rahim said the move was a decree from Johor Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar issued yesterday, Malaysia's Berita Harian reported.

"The content of the speeches that the two preachers have delivered previously could disrupt the harmony between the races," Mr Abdul Mutalip said.

"The Johor Islamic Religious Department will continue to monitor religious talks in the state to ensure that there are no elements or views that encourage racial disunity from being delivered."

The Sultan of Johor has recently flexed his muscles over issues of religion.

As Johor's head of Islam, the Sultan last month ordered the state Islamic religious department to stop dealing with the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) after one of Jakim's preachers criticised a sultan, understood to be the Johor ruler, for barring a Muslim-only launderette in the state.

The content of the speeches that the two preachers have delivered previously could disrupt the harmony between the races. Johor Religious Affairs Committee chairman Abdul Mutalip Abd Rahim

Dr Zahid, who is also the Home Affairs Minister, had said on Tuesday that the country will not stop the two preachers from speaking in public as the duo had so far not caused any tensions among Malaysia's various religions or ethnic groups.

Singapore's Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Monday said the decision to bar the two was made in consultation with the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, the Singapore Tourism Board and the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore.

MHA had said that Mr Menk is known to preach "segregationist and divisive teachings", while Mr Haslin had described non-Muslims as "deviant".

The ministry also said that both men had been engaged to preach on a religious-themed cruise departing from Singapore on Nov 25 and returning on Nov 29.

Organisers of the religious-themed cruise that both Mr Menk and Mr Haslin were supposed to be featured in told The New Paper yesterday that it had just been informed of the case, and the cruise will be sailing as planned.

In response to TNP queries on Facebook, a representative from Pelayaran Islamik said: "We have just got the news too and are working for a favourable solution to the problem.

"We will let you know of the status as soon possible.

"This cruise will be sailing as scheduled. Thank you for your understanding." - THE STRAITS TIMES, ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY HARIZ BAHARUDIN

JohorreligionMINISTRY OF HOME AFFAIRS (MHA)