KUALA LUMPUR: A religious sect in Malaysia’s Muslim heartland of Terenganu state set the stage for a showdown with the authorities yesterday, saying it will defy an order to demolish icons, including a giant teapot.
The remote commune is led by a 65-year-old illiterate Malay man — Ariffin Mohamed, better known as Ayah Pin, who claims he is God.
The sect has had run-ins with the authorities in the past, with four members being jailed for two years in 1998 for attempting to renounce Islam.
Last month, the local land office ordered the community to destroy structures it had built over the years — including the teapot, which stands several metres high, a giant vase and an umbrella-like tower — by May 28, saying they breached the National Land Code.
“We will not comply with the order,” a spokesman for the Ayah Pin cult, Rosli Abdul Samad, 37, said. “We have done no wrong. We promote peace and unity for all races. We are not militants.”
The structures are designed to promote unity among all religions, he said, accusing local Islamic leaders of attempting to contain the teachings of Ayah Pin by ordering their destruction. Rosli said there were about 200 people living in 30 wooden houses in the village, 20 minutes from the oil-rich town of Jerteh.