KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 5 (Bernama) -- Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom has described as dangerous and misleading a statement by PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar that religious freedom should be accorded to everyone, including the Malays.
Jamil Khir said such a statement was unwarranted for it could deceive society and Muslims on the interpretation of freedom of religion.
"As enshrined in the Federal Constitution, Islam is the religion of the federation, and every child born a Muslim remains a Muslim," he told reporters after chairing the National Council of Islamic Religious Affairs meeting here today.
In fact, Jamil Khir said, the Quranic verses cited by Nurul Izzah to support her argument were out of context as they were meant for non-Muslims who should not be coerced into embracing Islam.
Speaking at a public forum on "Islamic State: Which version, Whose Responsibility?" in Subang Jaya on Saturday, Nurul Izzah was reported as saying that no one should be compelled to adopt a particular religion and that this applied to Malays as well.
Following public outcry over her statement, she denied that she was supporting 'murtad' (apostasy) or encouraging Muslims to renounce Islam.
In DUNGUN, Terengganu, Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said every Muslim had a duty to strengthen the Islamic faith and the bonds among Muslims.
Speaking to reporters after a presenting house keys to recipients of housing assistance in Central Terengganu Development Authority (Ketengah), he said freedom of religion in Malaysia was meant for non-Muslims, and they could not be forced to embrace another religion or Islam.
"But for Muslims, we have a duty to ensure that Islamic values are practised and implemented.
"That's why we set up madrasah (surau), religious schools and Islamic universities, and conduct religious talks and lectures on TV and radio, and other activities so that Muslims will not be derailed from the path of Islam," he said.
In SHAH ALAM, Selangor Islamic Religious Affairs Department (JAIS) director Datuk Marzuki Hussin said Nurul Izzah's statement was not applicable at all.
"What she had stated is similar to saying that all religions are the same. That's not true. We know that the penalty for apostasy in Islam is death," he said.
Asked whether JAIS would haul up Nurul Izzah over the statement, he said JAIS had yet to receive any information on the statement.
Wanita Umno chief Datuk Seri Shahrizat Jalil said the member of parliament for Lembah Pantai's statement reflected that the opposition was willing to put the dignity of the Malays and sanctity of Islam at stake for political gain without regard to religious harmony.
She said Wanita Umno rejected out rightly the liberal thinking advanced by Nurul Izzah which could cause the Islamic institutions and the Malay unity to crumple.
"Wanita Umno also wants to know the stand taken by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as Nurul Izzah's father and opposition leader as well as that of her mother and PKR president Datin Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail over the statement," added Shahrizat.
Persatuan Jalur Tiga (Jati) president Datuk Dr Hasan Mohd Ali said such statement would only give certain quarters some leeway to mislead Muslims and complicate efforts to purify Islamic faith.
Describing the statement as far fetch from Islamic perspective, he said it was an indication that religious pluralism virus and Islamic liberalism had intensely permeated the Malay-Muslim community.
Malay right group, Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali said Islamic religious matters should be left to ulama (clerics), otherwise those with little knowledge could create blasphemy.
He said he was upset that religious matters were being capitalised in the quest to garner non-Malay votes.
National Professor Council cluster head for history, heritage and socio-culture Prof Datuk Dr Zainal Kling said Nurul Izzah's statement reinforced evidence that PKR was championing liberal ideology.
Anwar has allegedly made a liberal stand on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual, he said, adding that even his statements on hudud (Islamic laws) were somewhat unclear.