KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA: Protestors, ranging from 18 to 56 years old, were arrested after their demonstration outside SOGO shopping mall last Saturday (29 Jul).
According to the police chief of Kuala Lumpur, Datuk Mohd Shuhaily Mohd Zain, all suspects are followers of a religious group, The Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light.
Based on their official website, the group is registered as a United States 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
One of the suspects also had a prior offence last month for distributing brochures of Ahmadi religion at Putrajaya Mosque, said Shuhaily on Monday (31 Jul).
“Investigations found that all of them were followers of the Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light), who believe that punishment for humans can only be imposed by God. They have been followers for two years.”
He added that Kuala Lumpur Islamic Religious Department (Jawi) will determine if the ‘religion’ was a cult after it has investigated this issue in further detail.
The suspects were being investigated under Section 186 of the Penal Code, Section 14 of the Minor Offences Act 1955 and Section 9(5) of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012.
One of the viral videos of the protest had garnered over 6.4million views on Twitter as of today.
Ini kat negara mana ni? Mereka semakin berani ya?
Sogo ke? Tempat bersejarah tu🏳️🌈 pic.twitter.com/WeYz3sHReP
— Salim Iskandar (@Salim_Iskandar) July 29, 2023
However, before the police made their investigation and arrest, certain netizens speculated that the group probably getting paid by certain parties during the nearing state elections.
“Have you never seen the LGBT community hold a demonstration? They’re full of colors and not like this as if they want to protest the price of chicken,” user x***** commented.
User F***** commented, “they do not look the LGBT community at all. I wonder how much they are paid to do the provocation.”
The religious group condemns LGBTQ+ oppression following arrests
Following the widespread news of the arrests, The Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light took to Facebook to address the situation involving their followers.
In a statement attributed to their human rights outreach coordinator, Hadil El-Khouly, the group asserted, “The protest by believers of the Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light was a direct response to the escalating persecution of the LGBTQ+ community by the Malaysian government.”
“We do not support the oppression of LGBTQ+ people. Our doors are open to everyone.”
“We have many members of the LGBTQ+ community. Some of them have been jailed in Turkey, Iran and Egypt.” El-Khouly said.
Peter Tatchell, a London-based human rights advocate known for his unwavering dedication to Malaysian human rights and the rights of Ahmadi Muslims, commended the gesture as a remarkable display of solidarity among persecuted minorities.
Tatchell emphasized that Ahmadis confront oppression as a religious minority in Malaysia, standing apart from mainstream Muslims by embracing and championing the rights of the LGBT+ community. He lauded their courageous actions.
“I fear they will pay a heavy price under Malaysia’s draconian anti-protest laws.”