“It is not the time yet to use the ISA,” said Deputy Internal Security Minister Datuk Noh Omar.
“We can still curb Ayah Pin’s activities by using the present laws,” he told reporters at the Parliament lobby yesterday.
Ariffin, known to his followers as “Ayah Pin”, eluded arrest when enforcement officers from the Terengganu Islamic Affairs Department raided their commune and nabbed 21 people on Saturday.
The authorities are investigating whether he escaped the dragnet as a result of a tip-off by his followers, who include civil servants, policemen and artistes.
The authorities had reportedly said four cult followers would be charged under the Syariah Criminal Offence Enactment (Takzir) for possessing documents that humiliate Islamic teachings.
The others would be charged for breaking a state fatwa (edict) which ruled that the teaching was deviant.
“Although we have yet to arrest Ayah Pin, we are closely monitoring his activities,” said Noh.
“We know where he is,” he said, adding that the suspect was still in the country.
He said the ministry would assist state governments to monitor and act against the cult leader and his followers.
The Government has reasons to believe that some of the cult’s teachings had spread outside its base in Terengganu.
“Since the state Fatwa Council had ruled that their teachings are deviant, we have asked state governments to use their present laws to prosecute Ayah Pin and his followers.
“We will also continue with roadblocks leading to the place where Ayah Pin’s headquarters is believed to be,” he said.
Noh said that “except for a few stubborn ones” members of deviant groups normally quit the sect after being caught and advised.
“However, no more advice or explanation will be given to Ayah Pin and his followers.
“We’ve given them advice countless of times but they continued with their deviant teachings,” he said.
He said Ayah Pin was previously arrested in 2001 for humiliating Islamic teachings and was jailed 11 months and fined RM2,900.
“We also detected their activities on July 1 last year when Ayah Pin, his wife and a group of 20 followers joined a Hindu ceremony at the Batu Caves temple,” he said.
In Kuala Terengganu, the state Islamic Religious Affairs Department has pledged to wipe out the deviationist teaching of Ayah Pin.
“We are committed towards eradicating it as it affects the thinking and religious belief of Muslims,” its commissioner Shaikh Harun Ismail said yesterday.
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