‘Sky’ comes tumbling down

JERTEH: The giant teapot and other key structures at the Sky Kingdom commune came tumbling down yesterday after the Besut District Council sent in their demolition squad.

More than 30 followers of the sect, who watched the demolition, did not resist or challenge the authorities.

Several children of sect leader Ariffin Mohamad, known as Ayah Pin to his followers, were among those who watched the Sky Kingdom symbols crashing to earth.

Asked what she thought of the council’s move, daughter Nor Hashide, 20, replied: “Tak tahu (Don’t know).”

Policemen at the scene barred pressmen from getting near the commune or take pictures of the demolition work.

Sky Kingdom

The Sky Kingdom is a quasi-religious interfaith commune located in the eastern Malaysian state of Terengganu.

While Malaysia has a secular legal system, the country is ruled by a moderate Muslim majority.

“Muslims in Malaysia come under the purview of religious courts that are not part of the secular federal legal system. Any attempt to deviate from Islamic teachings, or to leave the religion, can bring harsh penalties from the religious courts.” [Source]

Sky Kingdom leader Ayah Pin claims to be a deity

The group includes former Muslims

The followers were taken by surprise when the 40 council workers entered the commune with four excavators and five lorries at 2.30pm. About 50 policemen and officers from the state Islamic Affairs department accompanied them.

Sky Kingdom follower Sulaiman Takrib, 56, said the perimeter wall was the first to go, followed by the assembly hall, the boat, the Dewan Bulat, the Dewan Nasyid, the teapot and other structures.

Sulaiman said an officer went to look for the children of Che Minah Remeli, 58, the first wife of Ayah Pin, to sign a certain form.

Nobody came forward and the letter was eventually pushed under the door of one of the houses.

In a related development, the three other wives of Ayah Pin have been detained by the Kelantan police at a house in Kampung Sungai Pinang, near Tumpat.

They are his second wife Zaharah Awang, 45, third wife Ruzilah Mokhtar, 41, and fourth wife Nik Kamariah Nik Pah, 33.

The Terengganu Islamic affairs department had put them on the wanted list for being involved in teachings deviant to Islamic beliefs.

They will be charged at the Lower Syariah Court today under Section 10 of the Syariah Criminal Offences (Takzir) (Terengganu) Enactment 2001.

Department commissioner Shaik Harun Ismail said the Kelantan police handed over the cult leader’s three wives to the Jerteh police at 11am.

The district police, in turn, handed them over to the department at 4pm.

The authorities, however, have yet to detain Che Minah or Ayah Pin.

Early last month, Ayah Pin obtained an injunction to stop any attempt to demolish any structure at his commune.

State Islam Hadhari Development committee chairman Wan Mohamad Wan Hassan had said on July 5 that any effort to shut down the village would depend on the outcome of the hearing.

Even if the state Islamic affairs department won the case, Ayah Pin was expected to make an appeal.

Ayah Pin was declared an apostate for leaving Islam and had spent 11 months in jail in 2001 for his activities.

Ayah Pin and his four wives were earlier said to have fled from the Sky Kingdom before the compound was attacked by a group of masked men on July 18.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
The Star, Malasia
Aug. 1, 2005
K. Suthakar

Religion News Blog posted this on Monday August 1, 2005.
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