Malaysia pledges ‘new narrative’ on Islam, questions Zakir Naik’s provocative speeches as against a multiracial country

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ISLAMIC affairs minister in Malaysia Mujahid Yusof Rawa appeared on the BBC Hardtalk programme to defend the government’s track record on contentious issues affecting Islam, while pledging to come up with a “new narrative” on Islam that he said would not repeat past mistakes.

“When we came to power, we rejected being a government which used and exploited religion and race for political purposes. So that is why we are now proposing or advocating Islam as a very progressive religion. “And we have come with a new narrative of Islam in Malaysia with the new government, with what we call the compassionate Islam, that we hope would trigger national unity,” Mujahid said in the interview with host Zeinab Badawi, aired tonight by BBC.

Mujahid said the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government must not “repeat the same mistakes of the previous government” when it comes to Islamic issues. “In order to do that, you need to have a strong narrative of Islam,” he said.

During the 30-minute progamme, he was asked about the Islamic authorities’ crackdown on Shia Muslims in Malaysia as well as his statements praising controversial preacher Dr Zakir Naik. But Mujahid denied endorsing the Indian Muslim preacher, saying he had repeatedly warned him about his provocative speeches at a meeting held in March this year. “All these words and statements are not suitable in Malaysia, and I have said this many times. I also warned him about his position in Malaysia, that he should be more alert in the sense that Malaysia is a multiracial country.”

On March 13, Mujahid had met Naik, saying on his Facebook page that the televangelist’s efforts to preach Islam had taken him to every corner of the world and served as an “inspiration” to others to keep on preaching. Mujahid maintained this was not an endorsement, however, adding that it did not represent the full picture of his stand on Naik.

He also brushed aside questions on the authorities’ persecution of Sisters in Islam, saying it was not the action of the present government. “They were the first to come and see me. I invited them and talked to them to see how they can play a better role in advocating and helping oppressed women. “I don’t think in my position as minister of religious affairs that I’ve neglected their position.” (With inputs from Free Malaysia Today).

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