KUALA LUMPUR: The Selangor Religious Affairs Department (Jais) has held back charges against former Perlis mufti Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin for allegedly preaching without authorisation, pending its investigation of the religious scholar.Mohd Asri was expected to be charged under Section 119 of the Selangor Islamic Administration Enactment for allegedly preaching without state authorisation (tauliah). This came after the former Perlis mufti was detained by some 50 Jais enforcement officers and police officers at around 10pm on Sunday night while conducting his monthly religious class at a house in Ulu Klang. He was then taken to the Ulu Klang police station after midnight and released on police bail at about 1.10am yesterday with orders to appear at Gombak Timur lower syariah court on Monday morning to be charged.However, after waiting all morning at the Gombak Islamic Religious Council's office next to the lower syariah court, Mohd Asri was informed that he was now ordered to be present for questioning by Jais rather than to be charged in court. Mohd Asri, who was Perlis mufti from 2006 to 2008, has yet to have his statement recorded by the religious authorities. Mohd Asri's lawyer Zulkifli Che Yong told reporters that Mohd Asri's earlier police bail -- which was issued on the instruction orders of Jais -- ordering Mohd Asri to appear at the lower syariah court had been cancelled. When asked, Zulkifli said it was not known when Mohd Asri will be hauled up for questioning as the new bail notice stated that the former mufti's presence would be required "when notified". Speaking to reporters, Mohd Asri challenged to authorities to press charges against him if he had indeed committed any wrongdoing. "If anything, press charges (against me). Until now I do not know what I have done wrong. And the way they detained me, it was like (I had committed) a big crime", he said. Earlier, Mohd Asri alluded that there were "unseen hands" behind his detention and impending investigation. Mohd Asri has been outspoken against the use of the Internal Security Act (ISA) and expressing opinions against that of the National Fatwa Council and the Department of Islamic Development (Jakim) on certain issues. Among those present to lend their support were Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir, Ampang member of parliament (MP) Zuraida Kamaruddin and Balik Pulau MP Yusmadi Yusoff. Yusmadi Yusoff slammed the probe on Mohd Asri as a "persecution of ideas" and urged the authorities to withdraw any planned action against Mohd Asri. Dozens of Mohd Asri's supporters outside the court complex later booed and jeered at an officer said to be the arresting officer who took Mohd Asri in on Sunday night.The said officer later identified himself as Shahrom Maarof, the head of Jais' special action unit. Shahrom declined to comment on Mohd Asri's case but said that the religious authorities would soon hold a press conference on the matter. Meanwhile, in a press statement yesterday, Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim urged Jais to give reasonable explanations to the public as there had been “uncertainties and questions arising as to the nature of the arrest”.Khalid added that he believed Jais is “professional enough” to carry out free, fair and transparent investigations on Mohd Asri.
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