I will continue to speak out, says activist

Noel Achariam

Sarajun Hoda Abdul Hassan's Facebook post was on the issue of tauliah, where a religious leader or a mufti must get the approval of the state religious department before giving any sermons at mosques. – The Malaysian Insight pic, January 30, 2018.

DESPITE his arrest last night, social activist Sarajun Hoda Abdul Hassan will continue to speak up on critical issues, but with a better choice of words.

The Aliran member and former Bersih deputy chairman was picked up from his house yesterday evening for a Facebook posting he put up in July last year.

He was released just after midnight today after he had his statement recorded at the Dang Wangi district police headquarters.

Speaking to The Malaysian Insight at a restaurant in Klang today, Sarajun said his “offensive” posting was on the issue of tauliah, where any speaker on Islam must get the approval of the state religious department before giving any sermon anywhere.

“Even international Muslim scholars were shunned from any (public) place because they didn’t get the tauliah.

“The tauliah issue is not Islamic. It’s political,” the 61-year-old said.

Sarajun added that he deleted the post three months later on the advice of lawyers and friends.

But by then, a police report was lodged against him in Putrajaya.

“The police came looking for me in November and December last year but I was overseas, on holiday. I came back on January 12 and police arrested me yesterday,” he said.

He is being investigated under Section 298 of the Penal Code which makes it illegal to utter words that could hurt the religious feelings of another person while Section 233 of the Multimedia Act states it is an offence to use network services to transmit any communication that is deemed offensive.

Sarajun said he only posted his opinion on what he felt was happening in the country and what was affecting Malaysians.

“The complaints against me are petty. Their understanding of Islam is shallow because they don’t read the Quran and reflect on its interpretation and meaning, he said.

He said Malaysia was in a dire situation in terms of social cohesion, race relations and religious bigots.

“As a Malaysian I should voice out against those who make statements that are not conducive to the country environment such as the elected representatives,” Sarajun said.

“I will continue to write, but I will have to rethink my choice of words.”

Sarajun was an activist for 40 years and a member of Aliran Kesedaran Negara (Aliran) which was set up in 1977.

Aliran is Malaysia first multi-ethnic reform movement dedicated to justice, freedom and solidarity.

Listed on the roster of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations since 1987, Aliran’s main activity is publishing Aliran Monthly, a periodical to raise awareness on local human rights issues. – January 30, 2018.

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