KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government is livid over the behaviour of two foreign tourists who were caught on video dancing in an indecent manner in front of the city mosque here.
The authorities have promised to take swift action against the tourists and their tour operator.
The nine-second video, which has been making its rounds on social media, is believed to have been shot by a passer-by, earlier today.
The video showed the women, in brief shorts and tops, dancing in an indecent manner on a concrete wall in front of the mosque.
Tourism, culture and environment assistant minister Assafal Alian said the government strongly condemned the disrespectful behavior of the two tourists.
“Once we identify their nationalities, strong action will be taken against them and the operator of the group who failed to brief and deter the foreigners,” he said.
He said the actions of the tourists showed their lack of respect to Muslim worshippers as well as the hospitality extended to them.
“Although incidents with tourists like these happen everywhere in the world, we will not stand by and do nothing. We appreciate the concern by netizens and their alertness on matters like this
“We can all work together to ensure that visitors to the state enjoy their holiday and at the same time respect our culture, beliefs and our people,” Assafal said.
He said the ministry would continue to have regular engagements with tour operators and tourism stakeholders including owners of tourist attractions in Sabah, particularly in sensitive areas like religious buildings and sacred sites.
“We also plan to introduce a carrying capacity on tourism attractions, including at places of worship, to better manage and allow a smooth flow between worshippers and visitors going to the area,” he said.
Meanwhile, the city mosque’s management (MBR) has imposed a temporary ban, with immediate effect, on tourists visiting the iconic landmark in the state capital.
City mosque chairman Jamal Sakaran said this was in response to the viral video which showed the indecent behaviour of the tourists.
“We regret the actions of some of the tourists (in this group) although they have received briefings on the allowed behaviour in the mosque compound,” he said.
He noted that between 500 and 1,000 foreign tourists visit the city mosque daily, adding that the management would also ban express buses, Grab cars and taxis (except those registered with MBR) from ferrying passengers into the mosque compound and its immediate surroundings.
“The MBR has implemented various efforts to spread the message on the beauty of Islam and the mosque to visitors but despite this, there are still tourists who act unexpectedly,” he said.
Jamal said among others, the MBR had briefed tourist guides, and provided proper Islamic robes, head scarfs, kopiah and a tourist centre.
He said the mosque would also place extra Rela personnel outside the mosque gates to avoid similar incidents.
He said the mosque management would also conduct discussions with the relevant tourism agencies to find the best solution in order to safeguard the image and sanctity of Islam.
“All ideas, suggestions and views are needed from time to time,” he said, thanking the public for their concern.