The Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) has denied raiding or disrupting a wedding ceremony at a Hindu temple in Petaling Jaya on suspicion that the bride was a Muslim.
Jais deputy director-general Ahmad Zaki Arshad said they were only investigating complaints from the public and took a statement from the bride to ascertain her religious status.
He insisted that the department had followed proper procedures.
“This was not a raid nor an operation. We only conducted routine checks and asked the IC holder whether she is a Muslim,” he told The Malaysian Insider.
In urging the public not to jump to conclusions, Ahmad Zaki said the case is still under investigation and to date, the department had only called the bride to Jais’s office in Shah Alam to assist in the investigations.
“There is no issue to accuse her of apostasy. Jais has yet to make a decision. Wait for our official statement after we conclude our probe,” he said.
He also said Jais would not punish anyone just because an individual has a Muslim name.
“For example, if Rafael Nadal comes to Malaysia and goes to a church, we have to investigate because he has a Muslim name. So please do not jump to conclusions,” he said in referring to the world number one Spanish tennis player.
It was reported on Sunday that officers from Jais had interrupted the wedding at a Hindu temple after receiving reports that the 32-year-old bride could be a Muslim.
Checks on the bride’s MyKad showed that she was Muslim, and Jais officers took her away for questioning before she was released.
The department acted under Selangor’s Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Among Muslims), which outlines offences deemed as acts of proselytisation by non-Muslims towards Muslims, and grants Jais the power to launch investigations and arrest individuals without producing a warrant.
However, the bride claimed her father, who had abandoned her family, had registered her as a Muslim but she grew up as a Hindu.
“She was unaware that her father had registered her and her three siblings as Muslims. She only found out after a relative showed her the birth certificate,” a Jais source was quoted as saying to Malay daily Sinar Harian.
The bride claimed she went to the National Registration Department (NRD) twice to change her religious status, once in 2007 and last April, but to no avail, as she could not obtain her father’s signature.
Jais’s actions have been condemned by the Malaysia Hindu Sangam, the Bar Council and the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf).
The Bar’s human rights committee co-chair Andrew Khoo said Jais’s action of going into the temple was tantamount to trespassing.
“This is the height of insensitivity and arrogance. It is certainly ‘kurang sopan’ (rude),” he said.
Khoo said although the administration of Islam came under the states, Putrajaya must take the lead as it involved human rights and the constitutional guarantee to practise the religion of one’s choice.
Hindraf chairman P. Waytha Moorthy said problems related to the religious status of those who claimed they have been converted without their knowledge, and the reluctance of the NRD to have a remedy, were reasons why such problems still persist.
“We have a serious problem in this country. The civil service is dominated by Malay and Muslim-centric officers who bulldoze their personal beliefs in the supremacy of their religion in the government administration.
“Their behaviour is nothing short of bullying, assisted by the government organs and machinery in oppressing the non-Muslim communities and their beliefs,” he had said in a statement.