Jais detains Rufaqa’ duo

The Star, Malaysia/December 2, 2006

Rufaqa’ Corporation Sdn Bhd company secretary Zulkifli Awang Kecik and board director Mejar (R) Abu Zarim Taharem were detained soon after they finished a press conference at the company’s office in Bandar Country Homes here yesterday.

Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (Jais) deputy director for enforcement Mohd Shahzihan Ahmad led a 20-member raiding team that picked up the two at 10.45am and read out the charges against them before whisking the two men away in a van to Shah Alam for questioning.

He told reporters later that the two were held on suspicion of violating a fatwa (edict) that banned the teachings of the al-Arqam movement.

The two were not produced in court but released on bond by Jais at 4.15pm, said the department’s public relations officer Fakrul Azam Yahya.

“Although they are free at the moment, they must return to the Jais office to have their statement recorded on Monday,” he said.

Zulkifli, in a statement to reporters, said former al-Arqam members who now run businesses under the Rufaqa’ group said they had been “processed” by the Internal Security Ministry for 10 years and had had ample lessons about the law.

He said the fatwa made against the banned al-Arqam had also taught them to be wiser to the requirements of the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim).

“We are always prepared to give our cooperation any time the Government needs our help on certain matters. It is not our intention to create trouble for the Government or the people,” he said.

Regarding allegations by a group claiming to be former al-Arqam members, Zulkifli said the statements attributed to their founder Ashaari Muhammad were not true.

Abu Zarim admitted that he was featured in a VCD currently being circulated, but denied it was linked to Ashaari.

He said the VCD had been reproduced and sold without his permission at mosques and suraus in Selangor and also to TV3, ntv7 and the magazine Mastika.

“Meanwhile, state executive councillor in charge of religious affairs Datuk Abdul Rahman Palil said that except for 10 hardcore members, the rest of the 107 people arrested last week on suspicion of trying to revive al-Arqam teachings had been released.

“The investigation is still on. Jais will decide soon whether to charge them,” he said.

In Kuala Lumpur, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Dr Abdullah Mohamed Zin said ministers in charge of Islamic affairs in Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and Singapore were monitoring the growth of deviant teachings in the region, including attempts to revive the banned al-Arqam movement.

The ministers, rallying under the informal grouping, Mabims, had agreed to keep tabs on Rufaqa’, which is said to be supporting al-Arqam teachings.

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