Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the expertise of controversial Muslim preacher Zamihan Mat Zain was still needed to help rehabilitate Daesh militant detainees.
- Described as an “asset” in rehabilitating and deradicalising detained militants in the country
- To continue public service of reforming religious militants
Zahid, who is also the Home Minister, was asked to comment on a statement by PKR Supreme Council member Latheefa Koya that Zamihan’s involvement in the ministry’s rehabilitation programme was of great concern.
She said it was shocking that despite Zamihan having had his preaching credentials revoked by the Selangor ruler, he was still “given access to the most extremist of people, that is Islamic State (IS) militants”.
Zamihan had on Tuesday posted on his Facebook page a picture of him at the Tapah Prison in Perak, with a caption explaining that he had a four-hour session with the IS detainees there.
Zahid said Zamihan was an officer with the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) seconded to the Home Ministry to inspect religious publications and was now placed in the Prisons Department as a rehabilitation officer for former militants and extremist criminals.
He said Zamihan’s expertise in deradicalisation is valuable to the government, pointing out that the preacher has a proven track record in restoring the faith (akidah) of extremists since being transferred to the Prisons Department.
“From records I obtained, his success rate in restoring their (detained militants) faith has been quite high.
“Meaning he is an asset, not only in faith restoration, but also in bringing these groups of people back to the right track.
“I don’t think he should be penalised with (the removal of) his position in the Prisons Department,” Zahid said.
Zamihan recently courted controversy after he criticised the Johor sultan for condemning a Muslim-only launderette in Muar while describing non-Muslims as “unhygienic”. He was subsequently investigated for sedition.
Latheefa said the preacher’s views were extreme and this included the Muslims-only laundrette issue that resulted in him being banned in Selangor and Johor, and his verbal attack against a surau administrator for giving shelter to non-Muslims affected by the floods in Penang.