The nation was shocked this morning with news of the arrest of Dr Asri Zainul Abidin, the former Mufti of Perlis. Dr Asri is popular with many people in the country for his moderate and sensible approach to Islam. Apparently, Dr Asri was giving a lecture in a bungalow attended by about 100 people in Ulu Klang from 8 pm. According to Utusan Online, a team of police officers and Jais officers were outside the bungalow from 8 pm and entered the bungalow at 9.30pm.
Initial reports say that he was arrested at 12 midnight for delivering a religious lecture without certification (“tauliah”) - notwithstanding his credentials as a former State Mufti!!! (ordinary Muslims – watch out!) His statement was recorded for almost an hour at the Ulu Klang police station.
The number of police personnel and Jais officers that were present to arrest this former Mufti is mind-boggling – one would think Dr Asri is a dangerous criminal! Anyone who knows him will know that he is a mild mannered man with smiles all the time.
What is more mind boggling is the report that his earlier Jais bond (release) on the charge of section 119 of the Enakmen Pentadbiran Agama Islam Selangor has been replaced with an agreement to meet up with the Jais officers at a date to be fixed. Couldn’t Jais have met up with Dr Asri earlier? Why embarrass and trouble the man?
Another thing: Jais Head of Public Relations, Mohd Hidayat Abd Rani apparently told Malaysiakini that the arrest of Dr Asri is due to complaints received from the public for the past three years. That Dr Asri has been giving lectures without certification (tauliah). Then why was he not charged? Shouldn’t Jais be prepared if indeed there is proof of his wrong doing according to the Selangor Syariah Enakments?
MStarOnline further reports this:
“Menteri di Jabatan Perdana Menteri, Datuk Jamil Khir Baharom menggesa pihak Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor (JAIS) untuk memberikan keterangan berhubung isu penangkapan dan tuduhan yang dibuat terhadap bekas Mufti Perlis, Dr Asri Zainol Abidin”.
Apparently, Dr Asri was asked to be present in court in the morning which he did, but Jais arrived late in the afternoon! What is happening? Jais has to explain clearly to the people what it is up to.
Surely even a religious department must have accountability to the people since it is funded by the people and their actions concerns the people.
People are watching.
More news on Dr Asri’s arrest on the following links:
The video of his arrest (please observe the number of police personnel deployed!):