Smokers irrational, like animals - Malaysia cleric

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KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 22 (Reuters) Smokers are like animals that do not think rationally, a Malaysian hardline Islamist cleric said.

Islam discourages the faithful from smoking, just as it bars them from alcohol, said Nik Aziz Nik Mat at the weekend, spiritual leader of the Parti Islam se-Malaysia, which seeks to turn the country into an Islamic state that punishes thieves by lopping off their hands.

Smokers did not use their brains because they continued to let themselves be addicted to the habit, despite knowing it was bad for their health, the Star newspaper quoted Nik Aziz as saying.

''People who do not want to think are like animals,'' Nik Aziz told the launch of an anti-smoking campaign in Kota Baru, the capital of Malaysia's northeastern state of Kelantan, which is his party's last remaining bastion.

Nik Aziz, himself a non-smoker, has earlier said smokers would not be included among his party's candidates at Malaysia's next general elections, widely expected to be called as soon as early next year.

REUTERS SS AS0855

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