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Malaysian Islamic Party denies Saudi ban on its leader amidst accusations of ‘extreme ideology’ and ties to IUMS

Malaysia’s PAS party denies the authenticity of a viral statement claiming its president, Abdul Hadi Awang, is banned from Saudi Arabia.

PAS cites discrepancies in the statement and clarifies his non-affiliation with IUMS. The accusations of supporting “extreme ideology” and Shiah denomination have surfaced before, linked to IUMS’s terrorist listing in 2017.



MALAYSIA: On Monday night (31 Jul), Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) denied the authenticity of a statement that went viral saying that its president Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang is banned from entering Saudi Arabia due to his affiliation with the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS).

In a Facebook post, PAS pointed to how the statements from Riyadh would usually use the Hijri calendar rather than the Gregorian, and that Abdul Hadi is no longer a vice-president of the group.

“This is proof that their side has run out of ideas to compete democratically, maturely, and with dignity in these state elections,” the party said on Facebook.

The viral purported statement had listed several reasons justifying the alleged ban, including his “extreme ideology”, calling for Muslims to overthrow their government under the name of “jihad” (holy struggle), and supporting the Shiah denomination which is a minority in Malaysia.

Hadi’s involvement in IUMS

According to the Malay Mail, this is not the first time Hadi has faced this accusation since the IUMS was included in a terrorist list by Saudi Arabia and its allies in 2017.

Formed in 2004, the IUMS is a group of Muslim scholars founded by Egyptian theologian Yusuf Al-Qardawi and is based in Doha, Qatar.

In 2014, Hadi was elected as one of its vice presidents.

His tenure ended in 2018 after he was censured by the group in 2016 for attending a conference in Iran, a key backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime amid violence in the strife-torn country.

In Iran, Shiahs are the majority rather than Sunnis.

In a statement then, the IUMS said that it was baffled by Hadi. It called the move insensitive, especially at a time when the Muslim world is grief-stricken and angered by Assad’s regime.

The current vice-presidents are Sudanese scholar Essam al-Bashir and Oman’s Grand Mufti Ahmad Hamad Al-Khalili.

Inclusion in terror list

In 2017, the Anti-Terror Quartet, which included Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, had designated IUMS as a “terrorist” group for allegedly “working to promote terrorism through the exploitation of Islamic discourse”.

This comes after the quartet cut diplomatic ties with Qatar in 2016, and accused the latter of backing terrorist groups.

Hadi had then accused the quartet of failing to act independently amid its pursuit of relations with Israel and the so-called “Mason-International Zionist” network.

It was unclear what he meant by the “Mason-international Zionist network” but it may refer to the conspiracy theory involving an alleged secret coalition between the Jews and the Freemasons.

Following the inclusion in the Saudi list, Hadi’s involvement in IUMS was downplayed by the then inspector-general of police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun.

Attempts to link Hadi to terror

Despite no longer being the vice president of IUMS, Hadi’s stint has been unearthed many times by his political opponent.

In 2019, Hadi was asked in Parliament to explain the difference between IUMS and the now-defunct Sri Lankan group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), after two Melaka and Negeri Sembilan lawmakers were arrested by police for their alleged involvement with the latter group.

The two have since had their charges dropped.

Hadi had then said that the inclusion of IUMS in the terror list was due to “diplomatic ties between the Middle-East nations”, and he was not stopped from entering Mecca when performing his minor pilgrimage of umrah.

In 2021, DAP’s Lim Kit Siang asked then-prime minister Datuk Ismail Sabri Yaakob to clarify if Saudi Arabia has barred Hadi — who was then his special envoy to the Middle East — from visiting.

Questions about Hadi’s status in Saudi Arabia already emerged earlier that year when he was absent from Ismail Sabri’s predecessor Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s entourage during his official visit to the kingdom and the UAE.

Again in June this year, Lim used the IUMS example to compare himself to Saudi Arabia which had once listed Hadi in its terror list when asserting that criticising the Marang MP does not equate to being “anti-Islam”.

PAS is seeking to defend its administrations in Kelantan, Terengganu, and Kedah in the state elections this month.

Earlier this year, the “Social Media Monitoring of Malaysia’s 15th General Elections” watchdog report found that PAS and Hadi were found to be the most strident in inciting ethnic-based narratives on social media in the lead-up to GE15.

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The differences between Hadi Awang and Tommy Robinson are scant if any.