Regional Conference On: Freedom of Religion in the 21st Century Muslim Societies

April 27, 2017


Date: Friday 19th May – Sunday 21st May 2017
Venue: Cyberview Lodge, Cyberjaya
Registration [By Invitation Only] 


Friday, 19th May 2017

  1. Prof Chandra Muzaffar, Founder and President, International Movement for a Just World (JUST).
    “Islam, Citizenship and Malaysian Realities”

Saturday, 20th May 2017

  1. Prof. Shad Saleem Faruqi, Universiti Malaya, Malaysia
    “The Marrakesh Declaration and Religious Freedom: The Legal Challenges in Malaysia”
  1. Dr. Ihsan Ali Fauzi, Paramadina University, Indonesia
    “Between Freedom and Extremism: The Religious Challenge in Indonesia”
  1. Dr Tim Rackett, HELP University, Malaysia
    “Buddhist Fury: Religion and Violence In Southern Thailand”
  1. Dr. Sivin Kit, Malaysia
    “Engaging the Religious Other: Challenges for Muslim-Christian Relations in Malaysia – A Minority Perspective”
  1. Forum 1: “The Rights of Religious Minorities: A Comparative Perspective in Different Societies.”
    Dr. Ihsan Ali Fauzi, Dr Tim Rackett, Dr Sivin Kit, Dr Mohd Faizal Musa

Sunday 21st May 2017

  1. Forum 2: “Islam & Politics: The Challenge towards A Progressive Malaysian Muslim Society”
    Prof. Norani Othman, YB Liew Chin Tong, Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad

As long as humans retain the need to be religious, until then we shall keep on calling for the rights to freedom of conscience, and freedom of religion. This right to religious freedom may well be acknowledged by most people who are aware of this fundamental issue but unfortunately, the rise of religious fundamentalism and extremism in recent time has threatened the spirit of peace, tolerance and co-existence, particularly among the Muslim societies and the other, in the 21st century.

In early 2016, we were reminded again of the need for religious freedom with the pronouncement of the Marrakesh Declaration on the rights of religious minorities in predominantly Muslim majority communities. This declaration was inspired essentially by the Charter of Medina – the first Constitution during the time of the Prophet – an endorsement of religious liberty to all regardless of faith. The declaration calls for different segments in Muslim societies to play their role and take positive actions in promoting religious freedom.

The Marrakesh Declaration is a call for action from representatives of Muslim communities from various Muslim countries to further promote religious freedom in their respective countries. It is also a call to all Muslim scholars and intellectuals to develop a jurisprudence of a common citizenship, which is inclusive to all religious groups. And a call to all politicians and decision makers to take the political and legal step towards fortifying relations and understanding among the various religious groups.

Such strong calls of action have raised an important question on how far the Muslim societies in this region are committed and appreciated the need and the value of religious freedom in our own diverse community?

Thus, this Regional Conference on Freedom of Religion in the 21st Century Muslim Societies intends to look deeper into the situation, the challenges and the way forward in promoting religious freedom particularly in Malaysia and the Southeast Asia region, and as well as the experience of Muslim communities in other parts of the world.


Friday, 19th May 2017

1500 Registration 
1600 Tea

Ice-breaking & Discussion with Participants

Moderator: Ehsan Shahwahid



Instructors: Thufail Sayuti and Aiman Khudzri

1930 Dinner

Opening speech by Elma Berisha


Welcoming speech by Dato’ Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa, Director, Islamic Renaissance Front


Keynote Speech:“Islam, Citizenship and Malaysian Realities”

Prof Chandra Muzaffar
Founder and President, International Movement for a Just World (JUST)

2145 Discussion
2230 End


Saturday, 20th May 2017

0900 Welcoming Speech by Muhammad Syamil Dzulfida


Session 2

“The Marrakesh Declaration and Religious Freedom: The Legal Challenges in Malaysia”

Speaker: Prof. Shad Saleem Faruqi, Tunku Abdul Rahman’s Chair Holder Faculty of Law, University of Malaya

Moderator: Ehsan Shahwahid




Session 3

“Between Freedom and Extremism: The Religious Challenge in Indonesia”

Speaker: Dr. Ihsan Ali Fauzi, Director, Centre for the Study of Religion and Democracy, Paramadina University, Indonesia

 Moderator: Maryam Zakiah



1245 Lunch


Session 4

“Buddhist Fury: Religion and Violence In Southern Thailand”

Speaker: Dr Tim Rackett, Associate Professor, Department of Humanities and Social Science, HELP University, Malaysia

Moderator: Hazman Baharom




Session 5

“Engaging The Religious Other: Challenges for Muslim-Christians Relations in Malaysia – A Minority Perspective”

Speaker: Dr. Sivin Kit, Director, Centre for Religion and Society of Seminari Teologi Malaysia.

Moderator: Afiqah Zulkifli



1700 End


Instructors: Thufail Sayuti and Aiman Khudzri

1930 Evening Tea


Forum 1: “The Rights of Religious Minorities: A Comparative Perspective in Different Societies.”

Speakers: Dr. Ihsan Ali Fauzi, Dr Tim Rackett, Dr Sivin Kit, Dr Mohd Faizal Musa

Moderator: Rasyad Razin



2230 End


Sunday, 21st May 2017 


Welcoming Speech by Nur Adilla Abdul Rahim






Forum 2: “Islam & Politics: The Challenge towards A Progressive Malaysian Muslim Society”

Speakers: Prof. Norani Othman, YB Liew Chin Tong, Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad

Moderator: Ehsan Shahwahid


1200 Lunch
1330 Conference Ends


Speakers’ Profiles

Dr Chandra Muzaffar is both a social activist and an academic. He is the President of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST), an international NGO based in Malaysia, which seeks to critique global injustice and to develop an alternative vision of a just and compassionate civilization guided by universal spiritual and moral values. He is a graduate of Singapore University where he got a Ph.d in Social Sciences (1977). From 1970 to 1983, he was a professor at the University of Malaysia (in political sciences). In 1985, he became a member of the executive committee of the Asian Commission on Human Rights. He was detained by state security forces during the crackdown of 1987. In 1988, he was nominated by Human Rights Watch as a monitor. He also a founder and president of Malaysian human rights NGO Aliran from 1977–1991. He joined the politics in 1999 and became the deputy president of the National Justice Party (KeADILan) from 1999-2001. He has published extensively on civilizational dialogue, international politics, religion, human rights and Malaysian society, including Universalism of Islam (1979), Islamic Resurgence in Malaysia (1987), Human Rights and the New World Order (1993), Alternative Politics for Asia: A Buddhist-Muslim Dialogue (1999), and Rights, Religion and Reform: Enhancing Human Dignity Through Spiritual and Moral Transformation (2014). He also was awarded the Rockefeller Social Science Fellowship in Development Studies for Southeast Asia (1985) and the Harry J. Benda Prize for distinguished scholarship on Southeast Asia (1989).

Dr. Ihsan Ali-Fauzi is the founder and director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Democracy (PUSAD, Pusat Studi Agama dan Demokrasi), Paramadina Foundation, and a lecturer at the Paramadina Graduate School, Jakarta, Indonesia. After finishing his undergraduate study at the Department of Theology and Philosophy, the Syarif Hidayatullah State Institute of Islamic Studies (IAIN, Institut Agama Islam Negeri), Jakarta, he studied Southeast Asian history and political science at the Ohio University, Athens, and the Ohio State University, Columbus, both in the United States. In addition to various publications in Bahasa Indonesia (books, journal articles and opinion pieces), he authored and co-authored some English articles published among others in Asian Survey, Studia Islamika and East Asia Forum and three books: Learning from each other: Muslim Societies in Indonesia and South Asia (2009), Disputed Churches in Jakarta (2011), and Policing Religious Conflicts in Indonesia (2015).

Emeritus Professor Datuk Dr. Shad Saleem Faruqi is a Professor of Law who has served Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) in Shah Alam, Selangor in various capacities from 1971 onwards.  He specialized in Constitutional Law and Human Rights issues. He is the author of Human Rights, Globalisation and the Asian Economic Crisis, Islam International Law and the War Against Terrorism, Islam, Democracy and Development, Document of Destiny: The Constitution of the Federation of Malaysia and The Bedrock of Our Nation: Our Constitution. He is the co-author of Media Law & Regulations in Malaysia and Co-editor of Decolonising Our Universities – Towards a Non-Eurocentric Paradigm. He has contributed over 350 articles to legal periodicals, anthologies and newspapers and has presented over 300 seminar papers in 15 countries including the US, UK, Australia, Germany and Japan. He is currently Tunku Abdul Rahman’s Chair Holder, Faculty of Law in University of Malaya.

Dr Tim Rackett is an Associate Professor at HELP University, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Dr Rackett read sociology at Essex University and studied with one of the world’s foremost ‘post-structuralist’ political philosophers Ernesto Laclau. His doctorate was gained at the University of London, Birkbeck College, supervised by the eminent social and political thinker and debunker Paul Q Hirst. After lecturing on psychoanalysis and social theory at Essex University and criminology at Salford University he moved to Thailand to live and study the ethical and political possibilities of Buddhism. He has taught philosophy, Thai Culture, globalization and International Relations, to Asian and American students. He taught and lived in Thailand for 14 years researching forms of rule and truth-telling, ethics, the politics and powers of Thai Buddhism, religious nationalism and governmentality. He has presented papers on the Southern Thai conflict for UNESCO and The Global Movement of Moderates and has two recent articles in the Journal of Religion and Violence on Buddhist nationalism and violence and a critical assessment of Michael K. Jerryson’s Buddhist Fury: Religion and Violence in Southern Thailand (2011).

Rev. Dr. Sivin Kit is an ordained minister with the Lutheran Church in Malaysia (LCM) and the founding pastor of Bangsar Lutheran Church. In December 2014, He completed his PhD in Religion, Ethics, and Society with the University of Agder, Norway. Since January 2015, he has joined the faculty of Seminari Theoloji Malaysia (STM) as a lecturer in Christian Theology and Religious Studies. Besides his work through the church and theological education, he also serves as the Director of the Centre for Religion and Society (CRS); he has been active in civil society, inter-religious engagement, and public discussions on Christian-Muslim relations, religion and media, and religion in the public sphere.

Dr. Mohd Faizal Musa (Faisal Tehrani) is Research Fellow at Institute of the Malay World and Civilization (ATMA), National University of Malaysia (UKM). His current research areas are in adopting a human rights approach concerning religious minorities with specific reference to Shia and Ahmadiyya adherents, and Human Rights in Malay Literature. He also maintains his weekly column at Dr. Mohd Faizal Musa is also a well-known novelist in Malaysia with two, among his celebrated works of twenty-three novels are, Sebongkah Batu di Kuala Berang (2011) and Perempuan Nan Bercinta (2012).  His key publications are The Malaysian Shi‘a: A Preliminary Study of Their History, Oppression, and Denied Rights (2013, Journal of Shi‘a Islamic Studies), and The Axiology of Pilgrimage: The Malaysian Shi’ites Ziyarat to Iran and Iraq (2013, International Journal of Philosophy of Culture and Axiology ). His recently published book is Wacana Sastera Islam di Malaysia dan Indonesia (2012, Penerbit UPM). He graduated in 1998 with a Bachelor of Sharia (Islamic Studies), University of Malaya; received his MA in Comparative Literature from University Science of Malaysia, in 2000 and a PhD. in Comparative Literature from Institute of the Malay World and Civilization (ATMA), National University of Malaysia (UKM) in 2010.

Professor Norani Othman is currently a Professorial Research Fellow of Sister In Islam (SIS). She was also one of the seven founding members of SIS and until 2013 was its Board member. She was also a founding Research Fellow of IKMAS (Institute of Malaysian & International Studies), UKM and until Jan. 2011; its Principal Fellow and Professor in Sociology of Religion, specializing in issues related to Islamic societies, human rights, rights and empowerment of women, democratization and globalization. Among her most important publications are: Shar’ia Law and the Modern Nation-State: A Malaysian Symposium (editor 1994); Gender, Culture and Religion: Equal before God, Unequal before Man (co-editor with Cecilia Ng, 1995);  “Grounding Human Rights Arguments in Non-Western Culture: Shar’ia and the Citizenship Rights of Women in a Modern Islamic Nation-State” in The East Asian Challenge for Human Rights, edited by Joanne Bauer and D.A. Bell (1999);  Capturing Globalization (co-editor with James Mittelman, 2001);  Elections and Democracy in Malaysia (co-editor with Mavis Puthucheary, 2005);  Muslim Women and the Challenge of Islamic Extremism (editor 2006); “Globalization, Islamic Resurgence, and the State Autonomy: The Response of the Malaysian State to ‘Islamic Globalization’” in Globalization & National Autonomy: The Experience of Malaysia edited by Joan M. Nelson, Jacob Meerman & Abdul Rahman Embong, 2008; Sharing the Nation: Faith, Difference, Power & the State 50years after Merdeka (co-author with Mavis Puthucheary & Clive S. Kessler, 2008).

YB Liew Chin Tong was elected as Member of the Malaysian Federal Parliament for Kluang in the May 2013 election, and previously was Member of Parliament for Bukit Bendera (2008-2013). Since 1999, Chin Tong has served DAP in various capacities and is now a Member of its Central Executive Committee, serving as Political Education Director. Chin Tong graduated with a degree in Political Science and an honours degree in Asian Studies from the Australian National University, and holds an International Masters in Regional Integration from the Asia-Europe Institute, University of Malaya. Chin Tong was the Executive Director of Penang Institute (previously Socio-Economic and Environmental Research Institute, SERI, 2009-2012) and Research for Social Advancement (REFSA, 2007-2011), and was formerly a Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS), Singapore.

Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad is the Strategy Director of Parti Amanah Negara (AMANAH), an Islamist Democrat and former MP for Kuala Selangor. He was a trained Toxicologist from the Imperial College, UK. He has alos authored Striving For Change (The Blindspot Series) and Najibnomics: Rahmat Atau Malapetaka?. Dr Dzulkefly was a former Director for PAS Research Center and an executive member for PAS. He is a prominent Islamist leader that promotes Islamist Democrat agenda even while in PAS before.


Organized by:

Islamic Renaissance Front