Groups slam PAS for its motion against SIS at assembly
KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil has come to the defence of Sisters In Islam (SIS), which PAS wants banned if its activities are against the religion, saying “the Islamist party should learn to accept differing views”.
The Women, Family and Community Development Minister said if PAS could not even accommodate the differing views of some Muslim women activists, “how can they tolerate the dissenting non-Muslim voices?”
Although the ministry did not always see eye to eye with non-governmental organisations or individuals on certain matters, it had never called for any punishment against them, she said in a press statement yesterday.
PAS adopted a motion on Sunday at its 55th Muktamar, urging the National Fatwa Council to declare SIS haram if its activities were found to be contrary to the Islamic teachings and principles.
The party alleged that the group’s activities were “dangerous” as it could cause confusion among the Muslims. The motion also urged the council to introduce special programmes to rehabilitate the group’s members so that they could return to the “right religious path”.
PKR and DAP – PAS’ partners in the Pakatan Rakyat – are also disturbed by the motion.
PKR voiced its disagreement, particularly with the call for SIS members to be rehabilitated.
“Freedom of speech and association are cherished principles under a modern and democratic state. Differing and dissenting views (and association) are not only allowed but should also be protected as these are the essence of a democratic and fair society,” said its vice-president Mustaffa Kamil Ayub.
DAP lambasted PAS over the motion, saying that it wants the Islamist party to hold to the principle of democracy and freedom of speech, of which the two parties have agreed upon.
Its women national secretary Teresa Kok said such a ban would be against human rights, adding that SIS should be free to express its opinions.
“To ban or declare it haram means an iron fist way of doing things that should not be allowed to be turned into a culture,” she said in a statement.
Malaysian Bar Council president Ragunath Kesavan expressed alarm over the motion, also saying that dialogue and debate should be the way and not silencing differing views.
Wanita Gerakan secretary-general Jayanthi Devi Balaguru said such a motion was a glaring reminder that the state of women’s affairs in Malaysia was still in its infancy.
She expressed disappointment that in this case, religion had apparently been used to divide and coerce.sumber; The Star (9 Jun 09)