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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

‘Stop persecuting Aziz Bari’

An NGO has called for end to the investigations and disciplinary proceedings against the law professor.

PETALING JAYA: An academic-based NGO, Malaysian Academic Movement, has called for an end to the continued persecution of constitutional law professor Abdul Aziz Bari of International Islamic University (IIUM).

“We urge the parties concerned to stop investigations and disciplinary proceedings against Aziz…,” the movement’s president, Profesor Wan Abdul Manan Wan Muda, said in a press statement yesterday.

Aziz first courted controversy this year when he commented on Selangor Sultan, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah’s decree over the Damansara Utama Methodist Centre (DUMC) row.

He again found himself in hot water when he gave his opinion over allegations that the Selangor Sultan forced the State Legislative Assembly to pass amendments without debates relating to the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (MAIS).

Wan Abdul Manan said that actions against Aziz violate the basic rights enshrined in the Federal Constitution.

“The persecution of Aziz for exercising his right to freedom of expression conflicts with Malaysia’s obligations to recognise the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; the right to freedom of expression; and the right to freedom of assembly and freedom of association as enshrined in the Federal Constitution.

“Threatening and intimidating students and professors for exercising their right to free expression and assembly violate international and Malaysian law.

“Punishing dissenting comments and ideas undermines academic freedom, which is all about the right to free expression and freedom of opinion,” said Wan Abdul Manan of Universiti Sains Malaysia.

Wan Abdul Manan added that the persecution of Aziz also reflects badly on Malaysia’s world press freedom index.

“Intellectual freedom and free speech in Malaysia has had a poor record.

“Moreover, constitutional guarantees of freedom of the press, expression and assembly are undermined by other provisions, and in practice they are only partially upheld,” Wan Abdul Manan said.

In the world press freedon index, Malaysia was ranked at 143 out of 196 countries in 2011.

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