Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak has rolled out the red carpet to controversial religious leader Mufti Menk. Socio-political commentators have described it as an attempt by Najib to burnish his Islamic credentials to appeal to middle-class Muslim voters ahead of the general election.
In November 2015, the popular Islamic cleric and head of the fatwa department of The Council of Islamic Scholars of Zimbabwe, was denied miscellaneous work pass by the Ministry of Manpower for preaching at a religious conference. Mufti Menk’s Singaporean followers however showed their support for him in Facebook.
In January last year, Minister for Home Affairs K Shanmugam explained why certain foreign preachers are prohibited from coming to Singapore.
“Foreign preachers are sometimes not allowed to come to Singapore to preach. Why? We will not allow anyone of any religion who preaches that people of other faiths should be shunned or that people of other faiths should be ignored. And it’s not only what he preaches in Singapore. We will also look at what he preaches outside Singapore. Because his speeches could be available online and it will be wrong for us to allow him to build-up his following in Singapore.
The Government will not interfere in doctrinal matters within each religion. But the Government has to step-in to protect our racial, religious harmony. We cannot allow someone to preach values which are contrary to our multi-cultural, multi-ethnic harmony. we take a firm, clear stand on that.” – Mr Shanmugam