The academic staff of the International Islamic University of Malaysia (UIA) have joined the protest against the university’s suspension of Prof Dr Abdul Aziz Bari, stating that the law professor is a victim of ignorant “allegations and pressure.”
Just hours after 700 UIA students gathered at the Gombak campus this morning to demand Abdul Aziz’s reinstatement, the university’s academic staff have also come out to condemn the indefinite suspension that followed after the don had allegedly criticised the Selangor Sultan.
“Abdul Aziz Bari (picture) should be thanked for getting a nation to think. He should not be punished for the reaction of third parties.
“The allegations and pressure that are not based on knowledge levelled against Abdul Aziz Bari are a waste of time and lowers the status of the country in the eyes of the world,” the UIA Malaysia Academic Staff Association (PKA UIAM) said in a statement today.
Aziz’s suspension has raised the mercury ahead of tomorrow’s planned gathering of a million Muslims to rally against “the challenge of Christianisation” on the back of alleged proselytising by Christians.
Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah had decreed recently that the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) had found evidence of proselytisation by non-Muslims during a dinner held at the Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC) on August 3 but said it was insufficient for further legal action.
Abdul Aziz’s statement that the intervention was “unusual and inconsistent” and not done in line with Islamic teachings caused a furore in Parliament among Barisan Nasional (BN) MPs who urged that action be taken against the UIA law lecturer.
Although a police report has been lodged against him, the outspoken academic has decided against apologising for his remarks, insisting he had not meant to challenge the Sultan.
“We feel aggrieved at the external interference in the education system that should be free and professional,” PKA UIAM added.
A large crowd at the Himpunan Sejuta Umat (Himpun), or Gathering of a Million Faithful, tomorrow could push Umno and PAS to seek relevance among more religious Malays and raise already simmering fears of Islamisation among non-Muslims and more liberal Malays.
Christian leaders have labelled Himpun’s fight against proselytisation “irrelevant” and cautioned the group against provoking religious tension by going ahead with the rally.
Although Umno has defended Himpun’s freedom to assemble, its partners in the ruling BN, MCA and Gerakan, have urged for the rally to be called off as they fear it will harm race and religious relations.
PAS has said the gathering should remain apolitical while PKR insists there is no threat from Christians.
Dr Aziz is not only a victim of ignorance but also a victim of selected prosecution. Unknowingly to these perpetrators, the former has been turned into an icon that represents the basic principles of morality which upholds justice and truthfulness rather than expediency.