PETALING JAYA: The G25 group of prominent Malays has called on Putrajaya to put a stop on religious extremism and intolerance following the recent detention of Turkish writer Mustafa Akyol (pic) by local immigration authorities.
In a statement issued on Thursday, G25 pointed out that Malaysians are becoming increasingly concerned that "the rise of extremism and intolerance by various groups is a result of a perceived ambivalent attitude, if not tacit countenance, by the Government".
"We, in the G25, therefore call on the Government to take a firm stance to put a stop to the rise of religious extremism and intolerance, and take definitive action to promote unity and harmony in this beloved nation of ours," it said.
On Sunday, Akyol was summoned for questioning by the Federal Territories Islamic Affairs Department (Jawi) for breaching Section 11 of the Shahriah Criminal Offences Act for conducting religious teachings without tauliah (credentials).
He was subsequently arrested at KLIA at 9pm on Monday after a warrant was issued for his failure to appear before Jawi.
Akyol was then released at noon on Tuesday after Jawi completed its investigation and was satisfied that the organiser had not informed him of the need to obtain credentials from the religious authorities in Malaysia.
The G25, in describing Akyol's treatment by Jawi as "heavy handed, extreme, and arbitrary", said that such actions could threaten the multicultural setting of the Malaysian society.
"We are particularly concerned that this action by Jawi is part of an increasing series of views and actions by Islamic authorities, groups and individuals which are becoming more and more intolerant and disrespectful.
"Arbitrary actions like these, in the name of religion, threaten the very foundation of the multi-racial and multi-religious character of Malaysia as a nation."
The G25 also said that Akyol should not be subjected to poor treatment by local authorities, as he was a prominent and well-respected Islamic scholar who spoke out against Islamophobia in western countries.
"He has always been a champion of Islam as a religion of peace, tolerance and moderation, and that democracy and Islam are compatible.
According to G25, such incidents could also undermine Malaysia's international reputation as a moderate Islamic country.
Akyol was in Malaysia over the weekend for several Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) events including a talk on Does Freedom of Conscience Open the Floodgate to Apostasy? and Is Democracy Still Relevant?
The United States-based journalist has written on Islamic issues and politics for Turkish newspapers, the New York Times among others.
His books include Islam Without Extreme: A Muslim Case for Liberty, which has been translated into Turkish, Bahasa Malaysia and Bahasa Indonesia.
Akyol left the country on Tuesday night.
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