The 25-page booklet, written by Ustaz Wan Zahidi Wan Teh, a member of the National Fatwa Council, makes disturbing and insensitive references to non-Muslims, including calling them unbelievers, kafirs (infidels) and dhimmi (non-Muslims who live in an Islamic state) and even touched on the imposition of kharaj (land tax on non-Muslims).
In the past week, conflicting signals have been sent out by the government on this issue, and the Religious Adviser to the Prime Minister, Datuk Abdul Hamid Othman, had said to various people that the booklet was not meant to be published for the public.
Inquiries at the Information Department Offices in various parts of the country in the past few days for copies of the booklet had been given the run-around and drawn different responses. In Penang, inquirers are asked where they got the information and told that Penang has not received the booklet yet; in Perak, inquirers are told that they have not received the booklet and it would be available only in January while in Selangor, the explanation is that they have run out of copies of the booklet and that a reprint would be available in January.
I call on the Information Minister, Tan Sri Khalil Yaakob to clarify whether his ministry has officially withdrawn the booklet “Malaysia adalah sebuah Negara Islam” by Wan Zahidi or whether it is still an official publication of the Ministry.
This question is very pertinent as Wan Zahidi has defended the Information Ministry booklet in an interview with The Sun today, claiming that his findings were made since 1993 from his original academic studies then as a member of Universiti Kebangsaan’s Islamic Studies Faculty, commissioned by the Islamic Centre to write on religious issues for its yearly Maal Hijrah programme.