Protest in Islamic International University (UIA) by the students against Aziz Bari’s suspension
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 21 — Hundreds of International Islamic University (UIA) students gathered today to protest the university’s suspension of Prof Dr Abdul Aziz Bari, chanting slogans in a show of force at the mosque compound of its Gombak campus here.
Approximately 700 students turned up for the protest and demanded UIA Rector Prof Datuk Dr Zaleha Kamaruddin immediately drop Abdul Aziz’s suspension. “Hidup hidup mahasiswa! Hancur kezaliman! (Long live undergraduates, reject authoritarianism!)” many of the protesters were heard shouting as police watched.
Many of the students said the move was necessary to “repair” the university’s image as a respected academic institution. UIA has indefinitely suspended the outspoken academic following his remarks on the the Selangor Sultan, saying that “criticism of a Ruler is valid if it is intended to constructively show that the Ruler has erred.”
Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah had decreed recently that the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) had found evidence of proselytisation by non-Muslims during a dinner held at the Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC) on August 3 but said it was insufficient for further legal action.
Following Abdul Aziz’s statement that the intervention was “unusual and inconsistent” and should have been done in line with Islamic teachings, it caused a furore in Parliament among Barisan Nasional (BN) MPs who urged that action be taken against the UIA law lecturer.
Although a police report has been lodged against him, the outspoken academician has decided against apologising for his remarks, insisting he had not meant to challenge the Sultan.
Among the politicians present at the protest today were PKR vice-presidents Chua Tian Chang and Nurul Izzah Anwar.
Ahmad Syukri Ab Razab, chief of student rights advocacy group Solidariti Mahasiswa Malaysia (SMM), led the protest towards the rector’s office to hand over a memorandum calling for Aziz Bari to be reinstated.
But events threatened to turn ugly when security officers moved in to block the students’ path.
“Return academic freedom to the lecturers and students,” Syukri shouted as protestors and security staff engaged in a physical exchange of shoving and pushing.
The situation calmed down after a representative was allowed to meet the deputy rector to hand over the memorandum which also called for students and lecturers to be allowed more academic freedom.