Malaysia: Bloggers Protest Religious Policing

Malaysian bloggers are irked this week with the treatment an young singer Noor Idayu Abd Moin received from a state religious department tasked with the enforcement of islamic law (Shariah). Shariah laws are enforced at the state level and not at a federal level in Malaysia and they only apply to Muslims in this multi-religious country.

Journalist Nuraina A Samad explains

On Tuesday, after her performance at an entertainment outlet in Sunway City, she was among Muslims caught by the Perak Religious Department (JAIP) when its officers carried out a raid.
She was singled out because she was wearing a sleeveless top which the officers found to be indecent.

According to Siti Noor Iday, JAIP officers accused her of exposing her body and encouraging immoral activities. The officers refused to touch her id card, calling it unclean. They ridiculed her about her occupation as an entertainer. They also gave her a breathanalyzer test to prove that she was consuming alcohol but the test came out negative.

Nuraina adds

If the religious authorities continue to humiliate people they have rounded up, they can be sure that they are making it so easy for people — Muslims and non-Muslims alike — to think so poorly of Islam and the enforcers of the Syariah.

Malaysian expatriate Unspun, currently living in Indonesia, says these kind of behavior by the authorities is one of the reason why some Malaysians “choose to live away from Malaysia

Shanghai Stephen is urging the crown prince of Perak state to step in. The royals in Malaysia are largely ceremonial but they are widely respected in Malaysia.

I seriously think my good Raja Muda of Perak, His Royal Highness, Raja Dr. Nazrin Shah, quickly step in and stop this “wanton judgement passing” by these self-appointed “saints”. Chill JAIP….this is 2007 and correct me if I'm wrong, and with all due respect, is this the “dark age of Islam”?

Ahiruddin Attan at Rocky's Bru writes about the double standards with moral policing

Did Siti Nor Idayu (pic) expose her body and encourage immoral activities? I wasn't there so I won't know. But I am tired of this Apartheid. Some Muslims in this country derive pleasure from shaming other Muslims and you'd note that these happen only to the lower caste Muslims. They are never going to order the Muslim directors in Malaysia Airlines to appear before the Syariah court for allowing liquor to be flown and consumed on board, for example. Or are they?

Desidereta writes a comment on Ahiruddin's above post and warns Malaysians against giving a free reign to religious authorities interfering in people's lives

if malaysians of all creeds, colours and ethnic origins are not careful, certain self-APpointed groups will one day rush into our living rooms to conduct a house search in the name of local council's rules and regulations. Malacca started off with CM-snactioned Mat Skodeng, FT Religious Dept followed with similar cloned snoops in Putra Jaya; now the Little Napoleons in this little episode “bullying a singer” are again testing te waters to seek out less-privileged Malaysain strata society to victimise.

The term Mat Skodeng here refers to undercover spies recruited by the religious departments to inform on offenders.


  • alex

    Malaysia is fast becoming a dangerous religious state, perhaps an Afghanistan wannabe. The people of Malaysia must uphold secularism at all cost!

  • halima

    If you folks don’t know it… it’s called indecent exposure, it’s punishable by the USA and Canadian laws, and the laws of other countries for that matter. Can’t you just be ‘just’ for one millisecond to the Muslim people taking care of their business or you wish all be wiped from the map of the world, would that make you happier – of course not – let’s cherish each other’s difference and get along – after all we’re all humans – one family.

  • […] has caused an uproar among Malaysia’s blogopshere, with a round-up post done by blogger Preetam Rai for Global Voices Online (GVO). If the religious authorities […]

  • Dark ages here we come…
    The poor girl just wants to earn an honest living.

  • orcaz

    Nothing change with Malaysia, just the increased number of seeing eyes.

  • Nora

    Why does Malaysia keep promoting itself as a progressive Muslim country? I’d hate for people to think this is what progressive Islam is like!

  • Chan Hoo

    I am surprise that yoga has been banned by the religious department. I have been pactising Yoga for the past 20 years. It has not converted me to hinduism. It is very relaxing. Ashame to be called a Malaysian. You are going backwards and turning into fanatics. you are distorting the islamic religion.

  • End

    i also dont agree why they banned many films…

    what the hell is really wrong actually…im so ashamed and hate becoming as MALAYsian…god i really hate bornt here..i dont undestand huh..why called malaysia as a muslim country..u think all of us are muslims??..u never donate anything for us to built our temple…u just donate to muslims…is that what u call..huuuhhh…1 malaysia?? we dont understand your,please repent before u regret

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