Asia

Islamic university under probe has history of promoting extremism

Islamic university under probe has history of promoting extremism
Al-Madinah International University in Shah Alam, Selangor. Photo: Malay Mail Online
Published: 9:30 PM, December 22, 2016

KUALA LUMPUR — A private Malaysian Islamic university under investigation after police arrested two of its students for suspected militancy had previously been flagged for espousing extremist teachings.

The ten year old Al-Madinah International University (Mediu) in Shah Alam, Selangor had a “history of inconsistent religious teachings and extremist doctrine” according to a Public Service Department source, adding that its graduates have been barred from the civil service. Their qualifications have not been recognised by the government since 2014.

“There has been evidence of extremist teachings ... it is unacceptable to have such people as civil servants,” said the source.

The source revealed the Selangor palace had told the authorities to monitor the university. This was confirmed by another source close to the palace.

Part of Mediu’s syllabus, specifically the Aqidah (creed) subject in its Islamic Studies course, had apparently promoted extremism.

“Certain topics were related to militant ideologies. The university has been advised to alter their syllabus and teachings, but we found some of it remained the same ... even after assuring us they would make amendments,” said counter terrorism unit director Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay.

Mr Ayob said the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Jais), Selangor Mufti Department and Higher Education Ministry were investigating the university’s syllabus.

Jais on Thursday (Dec 22) confirmed they were investigating the extreme elements of Wahhabism taught at the university.

Police sources also said the son of a high-ranking official at the university was an “IS sympathiser” and had visited Malaysia previously, but it was unclear if he had been at the university.

“The son is also believed to be an active IS militant and had visited Malaysia before. He is believed to be in Syria at this point of time,” said a source involved in the investigations.

Mediu was thrust into the spotlight after it emerged that two students - both foreigners - enrolled there were among seven people nabbed by the Special Branch Counterterrorism unit in separate raids in recent weeks. The pair were planning to attack an international school in Kuala Lumpur.

The university however has denied claims that it promotes extremism, adding that its courses are approved and accredited by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency, the government body that accredits academic programmes provided by educational institutions.

Abdul Ghani Mohamad, Mediu’s international relations deputy director said to Malay Mail that “we are very transparent with our syllabus. Information concerning every course is on the website.”

“If anyone has questions on what is taught, they can talk to us,” he said.

On the two foreigners arrested, he said they were still considered active students as Mediu has no authority to expel them based on “wild accusations”.

‘“We cannot expel them based on accusations. Apart from their arrests, police have not given us any other information as they claim it’s highly classified,” Mr Abdul Ghani said.

“They are only suspected to be involved in militant activities. How can we pre-judge?”

The university has at least 780 foreign students — from South-east Asia, Middle East and Africa — and some 400 locals. About 2,000 students have also enrolled for online courses.

The education ministry and religious authorities were reportedly scheduled to meet with university officials to discuss the fate of the institution. AGENCIES