PETALING JAYA - "I Want to Touch a Dog" organiser Syed Azmi Alhabshi is one of the better Muslims around and would be the first to volunteer to help the poor and needy, said unity advocate and author Anas Zubedy (pic).
Anas, who knows Syed Azmi personally, implored Malaysian Muslims and clerics to stop attacking Syed Azmi for organising the event, claiming that he had not contravened the religion in any way.
"A lot of people are drawing conclusions. Maybe they are picking up from their own fears and confusion. But this guy (Syed Azmi) is not at fault.
"He helped us with the 'Say Something Nice' campaign. He would be the first to help the poor," Anas told The Star on Tuesday.
He said Syed Azmi had regularly organised his #tamakpahala project, where people can give away clothing, food and unused items to the poor for free.
"I'm not trying to go against the religious authorities, but I hope they can see that Syed Azmi had good intentions.
"It is hard-hearted to accuse him of wanting to challenge the clerics and insulting Islam," said Anas, adding that people had also hurled hateful words against Syed Azmi instead of trying to understand where he was coming from.
Anas also defended the Islamic religious authorities and disagreed with the manner in which some people chose to hurl insults at the Islamic Development Department (Jakim) for its stand on the issue.
"How we Muslims treat each other, especially how our opinion leaders handle disagreements with others, will play a bigger role in ensuring respect for Islam or otherwise," he added.
Anas, who is the founder of the consultancy firm Zubedy (M) Sdn Bhd, also said that Syed Azmi was doing a noble effort to organise the dog-patting event to get fellow Muslims to familiarise themselves with dogs.
The unity advocate also shared his own experiences with dogs, having grown up with several canine friends over the years.
Meanwhile, Communication and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek said the ministry was monitoring the issue closely from various angles, including religious and social sensitivities.
"This also covers what is going on in the cyberworld," he said.
He added that the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission would refer cases to the Attorney-General's Chambers if the comments were found to have flouted the law.