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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Marina Mahathir choked up over Kassim's case

Activist Marina Mahathir today expressed unhappiness over the arrest and charging of controversial scholar Kassim Ahmad at the Syariah High Court in Putrajaya today.

Kassim, 81 (centre in photo), was arrested by the Federal Territories Islamic Affairs Department (Jawi) yesterday and is facing two charges, over his views on the hadith (words and actions of Prophet Muhammad).

“Why did they (Jawi) interrogate an old man (Kassim) like him until 4am? Apparently so they could remand him for a week. I think this is unnecessary,” she said when met at the Syariah Court.

The red-eyed Marina, whose voice was trembling during the interview, also appeared to be choked up over the arrest.

The daughter of former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad arrived at the court complex at about 11.40am when Kassim's friends were unable to post bail of RM3,000.

Syariah Court judge Umammuddin Yunus had set a condition that bail must be posted by a resident of the Federal Territories.

Kassim was charged under Section 7(b) of the Syariah Offences Act (Federal Territories) 1997, over statements he made at an event officially opened by Mahathir on Feb 16, for insulting Islam.

He also faces charges under Section 9 of the same Act over his banned books Hadis: Satu Penilaian Semula (Hadith: A Review) and Hadis: Jawapan Kepada Pengkritik (Hadith: A Reply to Critics).

‘Authorities did not inform family’

Meanwhile, the organiser of the seminar where Kassim had spoken, Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Hassan, who was also present in court, was also saddened by the authorities’ action on the scholar.

“I feel sad as even Kassim’s children do not know where Jawi is holding him. It is necessary for his family members to know so they could be present,” he said, adding he also does not agree that Kassim should be charged as the matter could be resolved through discussion or dialogue.

Norhayati Karpawi, who is one of the members of the organising committee, said the condition imposed on bail that the person who posts it must be from the Federal Territories is problematic as most who came are from Selangor.

Meanwhile, Sisters in Islam (SIS) in a press statement later today described the authorities’ action as a gross display of overzealousness and abuse of law to silence dissenting opinions.

“It is alarming that Jawi was able to embark on a cross-border manhunt so swiftly to arrest a frail 81-year old man whose health is failing. When charged at the Putrajaya Syariah Court, the prosecutor objected to bail, and wanted Kassim to remain in detention for a week.

“Such treatment lacks the compassion synonymous with Islam, as much as it is a display of efficiency and alacrity that the syariah system has seldom been known for,” said SIS programme manager Suri Kempe, adding that the Quran allows the people the freedom to criticise.

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