Johor religious dept denies alleged abuse in anti-Shiah raid on Monday

Ben Tan
Johor Islamic Affairs, Agriculture and Rural Development Committee chairman Tosrin Jarvanthi (centre) said the raid was ‘conducted according to SOP and there was no brutality involved’. — Picture by Ben Tan

JOHOR BARU, Sept 13 — The Johor Islamic Religious Department (JAINJ) denied today that its enforcement officers had acted aggressively during an anti-Shiah raid on a private function at a house in Taman Bukit Kempas here on Monday.

Johor Islamic Affairs, Agriculture and Rural Development Committee chairman Tosrin Jarvanthi said the 30 JAINJ enforcement officers who were assisted by 15 policemen had carried out the raid without incident.

“The operation at 11pm on Monday was conducted according to the standard operating procedures (SOP) and there was no brutality involved by raiding team towards the individuals in the premises,” he said at a media conference at the Johor State Islamic Centre here today.

Tosrin explained that 54 people, including four children between the age of two and 12, were in the premises when it was raided during the JAINJ operation called “Ops Hauzah”.

He said the raiding team only arrested eight men — four Malaysians, two Singaporeans, an Indonesian and a Yemeni — while the rest were given notices to assist investigations.

Tosrin was responding to allegations that the raiding party had acted in an abusive manner against those detained during the raid, including a claim that a gun was trained on one of them.

On Wednesday, three police reports alleging brutality by the raiding team were lodged at the Larkin police station under the Johor Baru South district police by three men who were in the house during the raid on Monday night in Taman Bukit Kempas here.

On the same day, Johor police chief Datuk Mohd Kamarudin Md Din told Malay Mail that the police would investigate the claims and take appropriate action if the policemen were found to be heavy-handed when assisting the religious enforcement officers.

However, he also said the police will also not hesitate to take action if investigators find the three reports alleging police abuse to be false.

The raid on Monday night was a JAINJ operation led by the religious agency’s enforcement unit assistant director Noorfendi Abdul Jabar and assisted by the police.

A three-storey house that was a rented homestay was searched during the two-hour operation where the raiding team also seized a Shiah devotional text called Kitab Luhuf, a notebook containing lecture material and a black flag containing the name of Fatima al-Zahra.

The eight arrested will be investigated under Section 9 of the Johor Shariah Criminal Offences Enactment 1997 for violating the order of the Sultan, mufti as well as fatwa, which carries a RM3,000 fine and one-year jail sentence.

On Monday, Shiah adherents observed the beginning of the Day of Ashura, which commemorates the death of Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Hussain Ali, during the Battle of Karbala in present Iraq more than 3,000 years ago.

In Malaysia, only the Sunni denomination of Islam and its Shafie school of jurisprudence are considered official.

Shiah is Islam’s second-largest denomination and practised by an estimated 15 per cent of the 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide, but is regarded as deviant here.

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