KUALA LUMPUR: A group of students gathered at the mosque compound of the International Islamic University Malaysia's (IIUM) Gombak campus to protest the suspension of law lecturer Prof Dr Abdul Aziz Bari.
Chanting Hidup Mahasiswa! (Long Live Undergraduates) and Hancur Kezaliman (Down With Tyranny), the students carried flyers with Dr Abdul Aziz's image.
The demonstration was organised by Solidariti Mahasiswa Malaysia (SMM), an umbrella group of student organisations.
Its chairman Ahmad Syukri Abdul Razab said they wanted to address the issue of academic freedom.
“The general culture of fear that our academics are forced to work under is not conducive for critical thinking and the pursuit of knowledge,” he said.
IIUM had issued a show-cause letter to Prof Abdul Aziz for his statements against the Sultan of Selangor.
He is reportedly being hauled up for saying that Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah's intervention in a church raid controversy was “unusual and inconsistent”.
After a scuffle, SMM managed to hand over its memorandum to IIUM deputy rector (student affairs) Nik Ahmad Kamal Mahmood.
Ahmad Syukri and Kumpulan Aktivis Mahasiswa Independen (Kami) president Hilman Idham then took turns to address the crowd.
“We hope the injustice against Prof Abdul Aziz is rectified immediately or we will assemble here again next week,” said Hilman.
As the crowd started to disperse, the appearance of PKR vice-presidents Nurul Izzah Anwar and Tian Chua raised emotions again.
Nurul Izzah said the students were brave to stay true to their principles.
“I am heartened by the show of support. More Malaysians should speak up against the politicisation of our campuses,” she said.
Gombak OCPD Asst Comm Abdul Rahim Abdullah said no one had been arrested. “We were only there to monitor the situation.”
PKR Youth chief Syamsul Iskandar Akin and several students were earlier seen being dragged away by the university's security personnel.
Bernama quoted IIUM rector Prof Datuk Dr Zaleha Kamaruddin as saying that the move to suspend Dr Abdul Aziz for seven days was not to penalise him.
She said the suspension was to enable an investigation to be carried out under the University Staff Discipline Regulations.
IIUM also denied reports that Dr Abdul Aziz was not allowed to enter the university premises and that his salary had been temporarily witheld.
“The university will pay his salary as usual and he is free to enter the university and associate with the faculty,” she said.
She said Dr Abdul Aziz would be summoned before a disciplinary board if he failed to reply to the show-cause letter.
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