GEORGE TOWN: A commotion broke out during a demonstration outside Simpang Enam mosque here today when a Penang state government official was allegedly slapped by protesters.

The demonstration, organised by a group of Muslim non-governmental organisations and Pas members, was held to voice out their dissatisfaction over the state government's alleged interference in the issuance of fatwa in the state.

Penang Chief Minister's information officer Major Zaidi Ahmad, who was at the mosque, was said to have approached the group and allegedly "touched" Jalinan Muslimin Pulau Pinang chairman Mohamed Hafiz Mohamed Nordin who was speaking loudly to the crowd.

A scuffle then ensued and several demonstrators managed to pushed Zaidi aside.

Plainclothed policemen who were at the area tried to defuse the tense situation and requested Zaidi to leave.

He however decided to remain at the mosque and questioned the group's motive for holding the demonstration.

At this juncture, he was said to have been "slapped" by one of the protesters.

Speaking to newsmen later, Mohamed Hafiz denied there was a scuffle during the demonstration.

"He (Zaidi) came to provoke us. He touched me, resulting in the others shoving him aside.

"No one knows what he will do to me if they didn't do so. Anyway, we are looking at lodging a police report on this incident." he said.

It was reported that Pas had recently accused the state government of usurping the authority of the king and the fatwa committee by allegedly meddling in fatwa decisions.

Penang mufti and state fatwa committee however had denied this, saying that fatwa decisions were brought to the state executive council for the purpose of notification.

A commotion broke out during a peaceful demonstration outside Simpang Enam mosque here today when a Penang state government official was allegedly slapped by protesters. Pix by Mikail Ong