Friday, July 06, 2007

Shrinking space

Here’s another example of what I meant when I referred to 'Islamisation by attrition' in an earlier post.

BN MP Badruddin Amiruldin whose “bocor” comment inflamed women not too long ago aims his cudgel at artistes in tight-fitting and skin-baring clothes. "Can the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim), Energy, Water and Communications Ministry, Information Ministry and the media discuss guidelines on dress code for the entertainment industry to suit Malaysian viewers?" he asked in Parliament.

According to NST, minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Dr Abdullah Md Zin replied that Jakim had already issued 40 guidelines for the entertainment industry based on Islamic values, which included a dress code. These were just ‘guidelines’ however and action could not be taken against artistes who did not adhere to them.

Today we read about the Perak Religious Department (JAIP) acting against a Malay singer “exposing her body” and “encouraging immoral activities” in an entertainment outlet in Ipoh. Did the notorious MP’s question galvanize JAIP into action?

Here’s the report in STAR. Words in bold have been highlighted for what I think are evidence of increased policing of our Malay friends’ public behaviour (justified on religious grounds), and the portent of an ever-widening chasm in Muslim/Malay-non-Muslim relations.

IPOH: The Perak Religious Department (JAIP) has ordered a singer to appear before the Syariah Court for “exposing her body” during a performance and “encouraging immoral activities”.

However, an indignant Siti Noor Idayu Abd Moin, 22, said she was wearing a sleeveless top and long pants when JAIP officers raided an entertainment outlet in Sunway City where she was performing on Tuesday.

“Our band had just finished and it was a little past midnight when they came in and rounded up all the Muslims.

“They asked to see our MyKad but one officer refused to touch the cards, referring to them as najis (unclean),” she said.

Siti Noor Idayu said the JAIP officers later detained seven people, including four employees of the outlet, and brought them to the department office.

“They put us in a tiny room and turned up the air-conditioner. I heard one officer tell the other: Bekulah dia orang (Let them freeze),” she said.

Siti Noor Idayu also said the male officers kept taking photographs of her, adding that she was made to stay overnight in that room until 10am.

She said the officer who finally came to record her statement at 8am, accused her of consuming alcohol and drugs, being involved in immoral activities, and that her MyKad was a fake.

“I took the breathalyser test twice and when the reading remained at zero, the officers looked frustrated.

“I heard one tell the other: Tapi dia tak minum lah (But she did not drink),” she said.

Siti Noor Idayu said an officer even told her that the money she earned working in the outlet was duit haram (illicit money) and that her parents, children and future generations would all be tainted for using such money.

“They finally wrote me a notice accusing me of dressing sexily and encouraging immorality just because I sang there,” she said.

The notice ordered her to appear before the Syariah Court here on Aug 6.

When contacted, JAIP director Datuk Jamry Sury said he was confident that his officers had not acted outside of their jurisdiction in issuing the notice.

“According to Islamic laws, a Muslim woman is not allowed to serve or entertain a man who is not her husband in a place where immoral activities usually take place,” he said.

As I have been saying, all it takes is a statement, a question, and amity loses a little more space. Going by the rationale offered in the report above, would it not follow that a non-Muslim's MyKad (not to mention food and property) is also unclean? And how long before a Muslim woman is forbidden to "serve or entertain a man who is not her husband" in Malaysia the way she is forbidden to be seen in public without a relative or husband like Saudi Arabia and Iran? And haven't non-Muslim women been already 'advised' to dress so as to not offend Muslim sensitivity?

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