KUALA LUMPUR: Prominent social activist Marina Mahathir today defended the right of non-Muslims to speak up on issues dealing with Islam, in view of its greater role in the public sphere.

“If Islam is used as the source for law and public policy, which affects everyone, then everyone including non-Muslims have the right to question it,” Marina told a forum organised by the Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) today.

A non-Muslim participant at the forum had earlier related how she was accused of interfering in Muslim affairs whenever she spoke on Islamic topics.

In the past, leaders from PAS and Umno had warned non-Muslims against criticising PAS’s private member’s bill to introduce heavier punishments under the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, saying it amounted to meddling in Islamic affairs.

Meanwhile, Marina said she welcomed the statements by the sultans of Johor and Selangor over a recent controversy involving a Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) officer.

But she said political leaders should have taken a stand earlier.

“Does religion tell us to be bigots? Does Islam tell us to discriminate? Absolutely not.

“Political leaders should speak out. If they know their religion, they have an absolute solid basis to reject all this rubbish. There is no need to wait for anyone.,” she told FMT.

Earlier this month, Jakim officer Zamihan Mat Zin criticised Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar for the Johor ruler’s condemnation of a laundrette operator in Muar for refusing to serve non-Muslim customers.

In a speech at the Masjid Diraja Tengku Ampuan Jemaah in Shah Alam, Zamihan also made derogatory remarks about the hygiene of Chinese Malaysians.

He was subsequently arrested for sedition, and his religious teaching credentials were revoked by the Selangor palace.-FMT NEWS-

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