Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has told PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang to submit a memorandum to the sultan of Terengganu if he disagrees with the state’s move to ban politicians from delivering lectures in mosques and suraus.
“Don’t attack us (the government). I may be the prime minister, but I respect (the ruling), so I will avoid giving religious lectures (in mosques),” he said after the monthly assembly for finance ministry staff in Putrajaya today.
He said Terengganu’s rationale for the ban was the excessive inclusion of political elements in religious discourse.
Last week, the Terengganu Islamic Religious and Malay Customs Council announced the prohibition, saying mosques and suraus should never be abused to create anxiety, restlessness or discord among the community.
It said Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin was upset that some politicians had given religious lectures or classes and led Friday prayers without the council’s approval.
Anwar said he did not give lectures in mosques even though he had been invited to do so, as Malay rulers in the past had spoken against people giving political speeches in mosques.
In January, Johor crown prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim announced that all mosques and suraus in Johor were prohibited from being used for political speeches.
Tunku Ismail, who is the Johor Islamic Religious Council chairman, also forbade any individual or politician from using mosques and suraus to discuss political issues.
Anwar said Hadi must respect the decisions of Sultans and the respective religious bodies which bar politicians from giving political talks in mosques.
“If we talk about it constitutionally, there is a way for him (Hadi) to talk about the positions of Malay Rulers, whether in the case of what happened in Terengganu or Selangor or in this case, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah.
“This barring (of politicians giving talks in mosques) applies to everyone, including the Prime Minister. I have to get out of a mosque if I want to talk about politics because the religious jurisdiction of a state is under the powers of the Malay Rulers.
“Therefore, he (Hadi) has to understand this,” said Anwar today.
Anwar said Sultan of Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah, in the Islamic Religious Affairs meeting yesterday, had also said that mosques should be made livelier (diimarahkan) but cannot be made into a political venue.
“To say that it (such decision) was made on political basis, it is untrue. His Majesty made that decision even before meeting me and so it was not discussed with me.
“The rational of the state (Selangor) was that there were religious talks but laced with too much politics and about (political) parties,” added Anwar.