KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 7 -- Any crackdown on non-believers in Malaysia will affect its global image as a moderate Muslim-majority country, international non-profit group Atheist Republic said today.
After Putrajaya announced yesterday that it will investigate claims that Muslims attended a gathering organised by its Kuala Lumpur chapter, the group insisted such meetings caused no harm to the public and were left alone in the rest of the world.
“We have consulates in every country including Philippines which is in the same area, but guess what, we don’t have these nonsense attacks on them. No government cracking down on our people simply for the fact they change their minds.
“What does this group do to anybody? How do they harm anybody?” Armin Navabi, the founder of the Vancouver-based group, told Malay Mail Online.
The Iran-born Navabi said the group was just meant for non-believers to socialise and have a support community since they are often persecuted.
A photo of the gathering by the Kuala Lumpur chapter, or “consulate”, has caused uproar from some in the Muslim community recently after it was highlighted by pro-Islamist blogs, leading to violent and death threats on social media.
“A group of beautiful people got together to hangout with each other, it made them happy and they took a picture. They didn't hurt anyone, they didn't mean to cause harm, they just wanted to be together and have a good time.
“The next thing we know...the government is getting involved. They are being told that they should be beheaded, or run out of their country,” said Allie Jackson, the group's chief executive.
Deputy minister in charge of Islamic affairs Datuk Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki said yesterday Putrajaya will investigate the local group, even roping in the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, as it allegedly involved the faith of Muslims in the country.
Atheist Republic has over a million followers and supporters on social media, with hundreds of “consulates” worldwide including in neighbouring Indonesia and the Philippines.