Police should cease investigating Professor Shad Faruqi
19 December 2017
Lawyers for Liberty view with extreme concern the criminal investigation against Professor Shad Saleem Faruqi regarding his article “Religious Radicalism on the Rise” published in The Star on 23 November 2017, which criticised the Malaysian Islamic Strategic Research Institute’s (IKSIM) stance on Islam and cultural diversity, secularism and liberalism. The police report was lodged by IKSIM and has led Professor Shad to be investigated under section 504 of the Penal Code, for intentional insult with intent to provoke a breach of the peace.
This criminal investigation is shocking and unacceptable as the contentious issue is merely an opinion piece on a matter of public importance written by an academic. It is mindboggling how IKSIM thought fit to drag the police into this matter when the usual approach of disagreeing academics is to write an article responding to the other article. Any academic disagreement, even on controversial issues should be debated and discussed in a civilised manner without the involvement of law enforcement agencies.
The police should have summarily dismissed the report as frivolous and not criminal in nature instead of troubling the professor and other witnesses and having their statements taken. The wide investigative powers that are vested in the police come with a necessary degree of discretion and good faith as not all police reports against government critics or dissidents must be investigated.
This investigation against Professor Shad is an attack on academia and freedom of speech, and can only perpetuate a climate of fear among outspoken Malaysians and further restrict our democratic spaces. We call on the police to drop all investigations against Professor Shad.
Lawyers for Liberty