Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy today clarified that the planned gathering against controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik to be held at a Hindu temple in Butterworth on Sunday is not a rally, but a prayer session.
“First and foremost, the event to be organized is not a rally but a prayer session for Hindus who have been hurt and humiliated by the likes of Zakir Naik and the Perlis mufti Mohammed Asri Zainal.
“Following the prayer session, a few participants intend to lodge police reports against those who have humiliated and demeaned Hinduism in the past few years including Naik and Asri,” Ramasamy said in a statement today.
Yesterday, police warned the public not to join the gathering saying that it illegal and those involved could be penalised as it violated the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012.
North Seberang Prai district police chief ACP Azmi Adam told reporters yesterday that the police rejected the application because it violates the Peaceful Assembly Act, to hold a rally in a place of worship.
Ramasamy said that three banners about the rally hung in three districts on Penang mainland have been taken down.
“I think that the police have missed out valuable information in their overall calculation to ban the so called rally that was supposed to be organized at the Butterworth Hindu temple this coming Sunday.
“Police are not in the business of telling what Hindus should do and not. If the Malaysian police can allow Zakir Nair and Asri to say all kinds of things against Hindus without taking any action then what right do have they to say when Hindus trying to organize a gathering for prayers.
“Is it an offence to call for prayers and then to lodge police reports against those responsible for the sorry state of inter-religious tensions in the country. Surely the police are in the know how about the existing tensions created by the activities of one or two persons in the country,” he said.
Ramasamy, who is also DAP deputy secretary-general, also claimed that the prayers session this Sunday as nothing to do with Hindraf.
“The event is merely organized by local Hindus to reaffirm their faith in Hinduism. Now, what is s terribly wrong with this? Now if their faith is under serious threat and the responsible authorities are not acting on the best interests of the well-being of the nation, aren’t Hindus allowed to gather in their places of worship?” he asked.
Ramasamy also questioned why the police invoke the Peaceful Assembly Act if the proposed event is about organising prayers at a Hindu temple.
“How come the police in the past have refused to invoke this law to curb the incendiary religious activities of Naik and others. Can’t the Hindus have a mass gathering at a Hindu temple for the purpose of prayers and religious solidarity. Why are the police jumping the gun?
“Who are the police to say that while they would not allow the rally to take place, but would allow if those gathered wished to pray. When did the Malaysian police assumed the responsibility of the guardians of the temple? Who are they to say when Hindus can pray and not pray in temples? Isn’t this something too much?
“I have been informed by the organizers that the Sunday event for prayers and solidarity would proceed in a peaceful manner and that there is no need for the police or any other agencies to over react to the situation,” Ramasamy said.