DAP's Howard Lee has defended himself against allegations of misinterpreting Quranic verses for political purposes, saying he had consulted with experts on the subject.
"Not only did I do my own research, I also sat down with religious people and had consultations with religious people and ustazs," the Ipoh Timur MP told reporters today.
He also denied that he had interpreted the Quran, saying he had only quoted from the holy book.
"I use the term 'quoting' because the accusation is that I was interpreting. I was not interpreting; I was just quoting that verse."
Lee, who had just returned from New York after accompanying Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim in a delegation to the United Nations General Assembly, said he had already given his statement to the police on the matter.
A police report was lodged against him over a TikTok video in which he cited verse 59 of Surah an-Nisa of the Quran, part of which reads: "O you who believe, obey Allah and obey the Messenger, and those in authority among you."
"This is a holy verse. The truth is, all of the propaganda about elevating Islam, elevating religion, nation, and country in the name of religion – all of it is based on what you want and is actually in order to get votes," Lee said in the four-minute clip.
In the video, Lee also accused PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang of abusing religion while citing the verse to tell Muslims of their duty to support Anwar's government.
The clip had generated stinging comments on the DAP leader on social media as well as from PAS leaders, including Kedah Menteri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor, who compared Lee's action to that of Basuki Tjahaja Purnama – the former Christian governor of Jakarta who was jailed after he quoted a verse from the Quran to hit out at his political enemies.
Lee, in his statement today, accused his critics of fanning tensions in the country, adding that he had received death threats but that he chose not to lodge police reports on them.
He also echoed Umno secretary-general Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki, who said it was PAS that had encouraged DAP leaders to study the Quran when the two parties were allies in Pakatan Rakyat.
"Why, in the past, when DAP was in the same coalition with PAS, it was not only acceptable but even encouraged to learn the Quran," he said, adding that he has apologised for his action.
Asyraf earlier said he had advised Lee not to quote verses of the Quran in political discussions in the future.