An Islamic group is coming to the defense of atheists after a Malaysian government official said they must not “cause uneasiness” among Muslims.
I mentioned yesterday that Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar made the comments in response to a viral image of Atheist Republic members who had gathered in Kuala Lumpur this month, shared drinks and conversation, and took a picture to celebrate.
“I advise this atheist group not to cause uneasiness, particularly among Muslims who reject atheism,” he told a news conference after witnessing a transfer of duty in the narcotics criminal investigation department and pinning on new rank insignias for senior officers.
Khalid said the nation’s constitution recognised Islam as the official religion without any provision in it for atheism.
He said the police would scrutinise the existing laws to enable appropriate action to be taken should the atheist group cause anxiety among Muslims.
But the Islamic Renaissance Front has now come to the defense of atheists. The think-tank which promotes “democracy, liberty and social justice” said to the publication Free Malaysia Today that Khalid was overstepping his boundaries:
Speaking to FMT, Islamic Renaissance Front director Ahmad Farouk Musa said Khalid was going beyond his jurisdiction. He said the main duty of the police is to maintain order, not to encroach on personal liberties.
“Khalid must explain what ‘creating uneasiness’ means,” he said. “If the atheists are enjoying their freedom to be free of religion without impinging on the rights of others to practise their religions, there shouldn’t be a problem.”
Damn right. Musa added that people of faith and no faith should be able to coexist, a sentiment which the atheists certainly agree with.
It’s welcome support and it’s the sort of statement we could always use when atheists are under attack in majority-Muslim nations.