By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal
June 24, 2010

 

KUALA LUMPUR, June 24 — The Najib administration today denied going on a “witchhunt” to punish individuals who followed the Wahhabi school of thought in Islam, with a deputy minister saying it appeared to be the personal agenda of a government cleric against others.

Deputy Minister of Higher Education Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah also said the government had not linked the followers to terrorism.

 

“Jemaah Islamiyah and Wahhabism is being misunderstood, causing the two to be linked to terrorism. I do not think it is appropriate to label anyone or any organisation with Wahhabism because it has links with terrorism,” Saifuddin said when replying to a supplementary question by Pokok Sena MP Datuk Mahfuz Omar.

 

“This is over stretching the argument, and because of that I don’t think that we can involve the four people, labelling them as Wahabbi or terrorist,” he said in the reply during question time.

The deputy minister’s statement came as a response to news reports that the deputy director of the Islamic training institute, ILIM Zamihan Mat Zin had linked ex-Perlis mufti Dr Mohd Asri Zainal Abidin, Perlis mufti Dr Juanda Jaya, PAS president Datuk Seri Hadi Awang and former Perlis Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim to Wahabism to JI at a briefing for government officials.

Saifuddin claimed that Zamihan had a personal agenda against the former Perlis MB.

“The person who gave the briefing, has a personal issue with Shahidan…how if this personal issue turns into an issue of national security…I am worried that this will turn into Islamophobia,” said Saifuddin.

The deputy minister told Parliament that the government will not allow this issue to get in the way of “intellectual and academic freedom.”

But Zamihan himself has maintained his allegation that the Wahhabi teachings have contributed to terrorist activities, in a repeat of what he said in the controversial security briefing recently.

The deputy director of the government’s Islamic training institute, ILIM, however denied naming the four.

“My presentation was focussed on extremism in public institution of higher learning. I did not mention their names, I did not accuse Jemmah Islah Malaysia (JIM) of involvement in terrorist activities,” Zamihan told The Malaysian Insider.

“But I did say terrorism is a result of extreme teachings of Wahhabism. If they are not involved they should not have overreacted,” he said.

Wahhabism known locally as Sunnah Perlis, advocates purging Islam of practices that did not exist during the time of Prophet Muhammad.

Source : TheMalaysianInsider