KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 19 — An Umno state assemblyman has defended the Terengganu state religious authorities’ move to arrest unmarried Muslim couples for riding motorcycles together, calling such acts an “eyesore”.
Local daily The Star reported State Communications, Multimedia and Special Duties Committee chairman Ghazali Taib, who is also Ajil assemblyman, as saying that the Terengganu Religious Affairs Department (JHEAT) had acted within its jurisdiction.
“Such acts are against Islam and are an eyesore. Many have been given advice so that they can correct their mistake,” he was quoted saying.
On Monday, Malay daily Sinar Harian reported that JHEAT nabbed 26 unmarried Muslim couples for riding motorcycles together under Ops Bonceng last week, over the offence of “immoral act in public”.
In a report by The Star, JHEAT commissioner Datuk Wan Mohd Wan Ibrahim had warned those riding pillion against putting their hands into the jacket pocket of their partner, hugging and leaning against each other, and sitting too closely on motorcycles.
According to him, such actions could lead to sex and subsequently pregnancies out of wedlock.
“We will advise unmarried Muslim couples to not ride pillion as it doesn’t portray a good image. That is our job and we are doing this because prevention is better than cure,” Wan Mohd said, adding that those who ride “decently” can escape action.
JHEAT chief assistant commissioner (enforcement) Nik Zulhaiza Ismail told Malay Mail Online’s sister publication ProjekMMO yesterday that it was considering extending the enforcement against unmarried Muslim couples from motorcycle riders to those in cars, but admitted that religious officers would not be able to observe Muslims in cars.
Wan Mohd confirmed this in The Star's report, saying that JHEAT enforcers would only rely on their eyes instead of cameras since eyewitness testimony is sufficient for Shariah courts.
He also reminded Muslim women in Terengganu to dress “appropriately” and warned them against wearing body-hugging clothes and jeans that he said show off their figure.
“We have given ample reminders, but we still find Muslim women disobeying the dress code,” he said.