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A PROMINENT Turkish journalist left Malaysia today, just after he was summoned for questioning by religious authorities for being involved in a forum on Christianity and Islam in Kuala Lumpur.

Mustafa Akyol was scheduled to speak on the topic “The Islamic Jesus: The Commonalities Between Judaism, Christianity and Islam”, at Nottingham University Malaysia’s teaching centre in Kuala Lumpur this afternoon.

However, it is learnt that the Federal Territory Religious Department (Jawi) had asked that the forum be postponed after it issued a summons on Akyol yesterday to present himself at the Jawi office where he was to be questioned for allegedly teaching without credentials issued by religious authorities.

The forum’s organiser, Dr Farouk Musa of the Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF), had also been called in to give his statement to Jawi today.

Mustafa was to be questioned for breaching Section 11 of the Shariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act, while Farouk was to answer the accusation that he allegedly abetted the journalist, an offence under Section 43 of the same law.

Farouk told The Malaysian Insight this evening that “Mustafa had left Malaysia today”, without elaborating on what time the US-based author had left the country.

Farouk declined to say whether Akyol or he had gone to Jawi’s offices for questioning today.

The talk at Nottingham University Malaysia that was scheduled for this afternoon was cancelled at the last minute.

Farouk said the decision was taken after consulting the university.

“We feel it is unfortunate that Jawi deems it a controversial topic because it could have fostered understanding between the different faiths,” Farouk said.

Akyol had been in the country over the weekend for several IRF events, including a talk on apostasy in Islam and the relevance of democracy.

The US-based journalist is a writer of Islamic issues and politics and his writings appear regularly in Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily News, the New York Times and Al-Monitor.com.

He has published six books, including “Islam Without Extreme: A Muslim Case for Liberty”, which has been translated into Turkish, Bahasa Malaysia and Indonesia.

His latest book is titled, “The Islamic Jesus: How the King of the Jews Became a Prophet of the Muslims”.

The controversy surrounding this afternoon’s forum comes as certain Muslim groups are accused of playing up fears of “Christianisation” ahead of the 14th general election.

IRF events, its speakers and activists have been a frequent target for the country’s religious authorities.

Last month, the National Islamic Development Department (Jakim) had accused Indonesian Muslim scholar Mun’im Sirry of bringing deviant beliefs into the country.

Mun’im had been one of the speakers at an IRF forum on moderation in the Quran, which also featured Perlis Mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin.

In 2014, religious authorities barred Indonesian theologian Ulil Abshar Abdalla from entering Malaysia to attend an IRF forum. – September 25, 2017.

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