“You and your family must die”, read one of the messages left behind at director Khairi Anwar’s house in Selangor. His car was also splashed with black and red paint.
Khairi is the director of ‘Mentega Terbang’, a controversial movie perceived by certain quarters to be a threat to Islam.
Other notes found in his residence read: “Islam will rise up! #MentegaTerbang (Islam pasti bangkit! #MentegaTerbang)”, “Mentega Terbang, don’t challenge Islam (Mentega Terbang, jangan cabar Islam)”, “Do you think your family is safe, Mentega Terbang? (Ingat family selamat Mentega Terbang? )” and “Look at you so arrogant Mentega Terbang (Tgk lu punya langsi Mentega Terbang).”
In his police report sighted by Malaysiakini, the 31-year-old director mentioned that actor Arjun Thanaraju’s car was also splashed with red paint and acid at the latter’s residence in Ampang.
Arjun also received similar death threats that were placed on his car.
According to lawyer Zaid Malek, who is representing the ‘Mentega Terbang’ cast, Arjun – who is also a screenwriter for the controversial film – is alleged to have received a call from an individual who identified themselves as “Faiz” and a member of the Special Branch, shortly after filing a police report on the incident around 1.30pm.
Kajang district police chief Zaid Hassan confirmed with Malaysiakini that Khairi had lodged a report this morning.
The attacks come in the wake of police recording statements from the movie’s producer and six actors.
The film, which aired on the streaming service Viu, tells the story of 15-year-old Aishah as she grapples with questions about life after death in various religions after her mother is diagnosed with a terminal illness.
However, the Muslim Consumers’ Association and Putra found it offensive that the movie showcased a Muslim seeking answers in other faiths.
Last Friday, police recorded statements from Khairi and Arjun.
Speaking to Malaysiakini, Zaid deemed the threats “highly concerning”.
“I find this highly concerning because we got to ask how did these people find out where they live, and how did they get the information?
“I’m not going to speculate on how, but the police must investigate this immediately. They (the filmmakers) have complied with everything that the police want,” said Zaid.
He added the filmmakers have cooperated with the investigation into the film thus far. This involved giving statements, handing over documents, and identifying those involved in the making of the controversial film to the authorities.
“Now that this has happened…will they accord protection to Khairi, Arjun, and the other people who may or may not be affected?
“It’s appalling. If we look at the entirety of the reaction to this – the reaction of the government, especially – it seems it has been pure condemnation of the film, making it a blasphemy issue.
“No one has specified what it is that is blasphemous at this point in time, but regardless of that fact, it doesn’t mean that their safety should be disregarded,” questioned the lawyer.
Zaid noted that there have been no calls for the safety of the ‘Mentega Terbang’ crew in the midst of the “furore” against the movie’s allegedly “blasphemous” elements.
“I think we can see on the internet condemnation (and) calls for action that could be construed as a call for violence against people involved in the movie,” he said.
He noted Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil’s renouncement of the threats made towards the filmmakers.
“Fahmi has come up to say that he will combat certain forms of extremism on social media. As far as this particular issue is concerned, no action has been taken. Why has there not (been)? Because it doesn’t involve any political issue?
“The authorities are not blameless because they created the atmosphere with their relentless propaganda against ‘Mentega Terbang’,” added Zaid.
The movie is being investigated under Sections 289A and 505(b) of the Penal Code, and Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998.
The Islamic Development Department (Jakim) also found the content to be in contradiction with Islamic beliefs and the Muslim way of life in the country.
Malaysiakini has reached out to Khairi for further comments on the incident. – Malaysiakini