PETALING JAYA: The way Malaysian religious authorities are policing khalwat (close proximity) is beyond anything in Saudi Arabia or other Gulf States today, warns a leading NGO.
G25 adviser Mohd Sheriff Kassim points out that even Saudi Arabia, the country which is home to Islam’s holiest site, has issued stern guidelines to limit the powers of the moral police to harass and arrest Muslims.
“The instruction is that the moral police should not take the law into their own hands and instead, it should advise those committing offences under the morality laws to change and repent,” he said In a statement today.
His comments were in response to the recent death and injuries of two policemen who jumped from buildings to escape raids by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais).
Just two months ago, Jais introduced a mobile phone app, called “Hotline Jais”, for people to report religious offences, including khalwat.
Sheriff added that Malays who visited or lived in Arab states have not come across any country where so-called moral police raid private homes.
He also pointed out that some ulama consider khalwat raids un-Islamic as it gave the impression that the religion used only punishment to uphold morals.
Khalwat raids also tended to target the lower-income group as the “rich and powerful” had more resources to “get away with bigger sins”. Sheriff noted that khalwat laws could be easily exploited by a person’s enemies to “settle a score”.
“Our authorities should learn from the failed experience of dictatorial regimes which criminalised personal thoughts and behaviour to discourage individualism and promote mass obedience to the state ideology,” he said.