Under probe for sedition, Islamic preacher remanded 2 days for criticising Johor Sultan’s laundromat ban

Under probe for sedition, Islamic preacher remanded 2 days for criticising Johor Sultan’s laundromat ban
Malaysian Islamic preacher Zamihan Mat Zin, who is currently under arrest for sedition for allegedly criticising the Johor Sultan’s ban on a Muslim-only laundromat in the state, has been remanded for two days to facilitate police’s investigations. Photo: New Straits Times
Published: 6:40 PM, October 12, 2017
Updated: 9:38 PM, October 12, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR — A Malaysian Islamic preacher under arrest for sedition for allegedly criticising the Johor Sultan’s ban on a Muslim-only laundromat in the state has been remanded for two days to facilitate investigations, as parties across the political divide called for sterner action against him.

The remand was issued by a magistrate before noon on Thursday (Oct 12) at the Dang Wangi district police headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, where Mr Zamihan Mat Zin is being held.

A special team from the federal police headquarters in Bukit Aman is investigating the case and Mr Zamihan is said to be represented by several lawyers.

One of his lawyers, Mr Fakhrul Azman Abu Hasan, said police had applied for a four-day remand, but were granted only two days.

This means Mr Zamihan should be released on Saturday, if no further remand is sought or granted.

At a religious lecture last week in Selangor, the preacher allegedly said it was not right of Johor Ruler, Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar, to ban Muslim-only laundromats in his state.

Mr Zamihan also made what was seen as racist remarks against the Chinese whom he claimed were unclean as they allegedly did not wash themselves after urinating and defecating.

His comments were uploaded on a YouTube video which has since gone viral.

Last month, Sultan Ibrahim ordered the proprietor of a laundromat in Muar, Johor to stop his discriminatory Muslim-only policy, noting that Johor was “not a Taliban state” and such practice was “extremist” and “totally unacceptable”.

The operator had initially maintained that he was doing his duty as a Muslim and that the policy was in place for reasons of “kesucian”, or “purity.” He has since apologised and scrapped the practice after the rebuke from Sultan Ibrahim.

Mr Zamihan in a statement on Wednesday said he had never mentioned the Johor Sultan’s name, insisting that it was impossible for him to have uttered words to insult the ruler. Mr Zamihan also went on to apologise to him over any offence caused.

He was subsequently arrested on Wednesday evening after he had his statement recorded by the police.

Mr Fakhrul Azman said on Thursday he had, among other things, highlighted to the magistrate why Mr Zamihan’s case did not warrant a four-day remand as requested by the police.

“As he is a civil servant working with the Prisons Department, there is no issue he will escape from the police, and I also argued the case is not such a serious case where punishment is mandatory imprisonment,” he said in reference to Mr Zamihan’s secondment from the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) to the Prisons Department.

“And it’s very easy to investigate. To me, what they need from my client is a statement. The rest, they have a video, it’s viral, so after those arguments, the court gave only two days for the remand.”

As a result of the police investigation, the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) has temporarily banned Mr Zamihan from giving lectures in the state’s mosques, suraus and Muslim prayer halls.

“In relation to that, since he is under the Royal Malaysia Police’s investigations, therefore the administrators of mosques and suraus at the grassroots levels are ordered to TEMPORARILY SUSPEND all lectures/tazkirah that are presented by ustaz Zamihan Mat Zin effective immediately from the date this letter is issued,” Jais director Haris Kasim wrote in a letter dated Oct 12.

The letter was issued to managers of all mosques and suraus in Selangor, as well as all district Islamic religious administrative officers.

While the police continue their probe against Mr Zamihan, the youth wing of the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) — a component party of the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition — urged the Home ministry to take stern action against the preacher for his remarks against the Chinese.

“Any person in the right mind would not shoot off such trash from his mouth. Such remarks are the least expected from one working with a religious authority, as people expect religious authority to encourage goodwill among multiracial Malaysians,” said MCA Youth secretary-general Leong Kim Soon.

“Our country simply cannot and must not tolerate such religious discrimination, lest we descend towards theocratisation of the nation.”

Opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP) said Mr Zamihan should not be left off the hook easily as he has a history of going against other races.

The preacher had, in the past, labelled other Muslims as apostates, and targetted Christians and those he termed as “liberal” or “moderate” Muslims, claimed Mr Lim Lip Eng, who is the secretary of DAP’s Federal Territory branch.

According to The Star, Mr Zamihan had labelled lawyer and human rights activist Siti Kassim as an apostate and said that Christians were “kafir” (infidels).

Mr Lim said the government need to take stern action against Mr Zamihan to deter others seeking to wreck the racial harmony among Malaysians. AGENCIES