KUALA LUMPUR, May 21 — Maverick ex-Perlis mufti Dr Asri Mohd Zainul Abidin today slammed the Shah Alam Syariah High Court for deciding on his trial date in the absence of his lawyers.
The court today fixed June 24 to mention Asri’s case. He was arrested and charged for teaching Islamic religion without accreditation last year.
The ex-Perlis mufti pleaded not guilty and had sought for a trial at the Syariah lower courts, claiming that he has enemies among the high court ranks.
Asri, a progressive Islamic scholar who has made enemies among the nation’s conservative religious elites, had only learnt of the decision through a report on Bernama today.
“I see this case is getting more and more peculiar… how can they make a decision in the absence of my lawyers?” complained Asri to The Malaysian Insider.
“There are various similar cases that have been tried at the lower courts so why do they have to make mine different? They have very weak reasons to do so,” he added.
His lawyer, Kamar Ainiah Kamaruzaman, said she was informed of the decision only after Syarie judge Mohammad Khalid Shaii had made the decision.
“We had sent a representative to the court this morning but was not informed of anything.
“After waiting for hours, we were informed that the court had already decided on the matter in his chambers,” she told The Malaysian Insider.
She will be writing a letter to the judge and the prosecution team demanding an explanation as to why the decision was made in their absence.
“They said they did not inform us because they did not want the press to know. But we are not the press,” lamented Kamar Ainiah.
Asri has long decried his arrest as a conspiracy against him. He claimed government religious institutions, especially the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department or Jais, have scores to settle with him.
“Even though Jais has a dissatisfaction against me, justice is essence in the judiciary system.
“If Jais keeps acting as if it is protecting Umno strongly, it will sow greater resentment among the people,” said Asri.
He claimed to be unaware of the motives behind the so-called conspiracy against him.
But his supporters, who are the nation’s top figures including, among others, former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, believe Asri has ruffled feathers among the conservatives for his progressive brand of Islamic teachings.
The maverick mufti has been charged under section 119 (1) of the Selangor Islamic Religious Administration Enactment 2003.
If convicted, he may be fined not more than RM3,000 or jailed a maximum of two years.
Sumber: The Malaysian Insider