Activists Call on Government to Curb Malaysian Religious Police

A coalition of several leading Malaysian human rights, women’s rights and labor groups are calling on the government to end moral policing. Officials of the religious affairs department currently have the right to prosecute Muslims for such offenses as when unmarried couples are getting too close and for eating while the sun is still up during the month of Ramadan. In January, the religious police raided a nightclub and detained more than 100 young women that they deemed “indecently dressed,” reports International Herald Tribune.

As a result of the protest led by the coalition, the State Islamic departments in Malaysia must now seek permission from the police before conducting raids and a senior police officer must also be present during the raids. While this move is a step in the right direction, Malaysian activists are still concerned about the role of the government in enforcing moral policing and its infringement on people’s privacy.

Muslims make up more than half of the country’s population of 25 million.

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BBC News 3/26/05; International Herald Tribune 3/26/05; United Press International 3/26/05

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