- The Straits Times
Before leaving the safe confines of your home for the day, you might want to take a second look at what you’re wearing.
If your knees are exposed, you might want to consider a change in attire.
That is, if you’re living within Kelantan, a state where the ruling party has been criticised for its increasingly conservative measures.
That’s the lesson a Malaysian man, Wan Khairul Hayyee Wali, learnt after being flagged for “indecent dressing” by religious authorities on Monday night (Sep 25).
He had been wearing shorts to a futsal game, a variant of football typically played indoors.
The 30-year-old general store worker stopped by a roadside burger stall to buy a burger for his wife on the way to the game, when he was spotted by an officer from the Kelantan Islamic Religious Department (JAIK).
To his surprise, he was flagged and notified that he was breaching Islamic regulations which dictated that Muslims should not wear revealing attires.
“Seriously, they can’t expect me to wear a sarong to play futsal,” he added.
For breaching the dress code, Mr Wan Khairul was ordered to attend a counselling session next month, and if he fails to show up, he would be called to appear before the Shariah court where he risks incurring a RM1000 fine ($240) if found guilty.
According to The Malaysian Insight, Mr Wan Khairul has said that he would attend the counselling session but he was upset that such offences were not made clear to the public.
According to the report, he said: “If it is an offence, they have to make it clear to the public. How are we supposed to know that it is an offence because even football players wear shorts?”
Deputy director of the Kelantan state religious enforcement unit, Mohamad Fadzuli Mohamad Zain, confirmed the incident.
“We do not take action against non-Muslims. We do not even take action if a female non-Muslim wears shorts in public,” said the officer in a quote carried by The Star.
“We just want Muslims to dress decently when in public spaces, in keeping with our religious teachings,” the officer added.
Dato’ Lua Choon Hann, a representative of the Malaysian Chinese Association, criticised the imposition of strict dress codes saying it might deter people’s participation in sports.
In a statement published in Newsweek, he said: “As the President of the Malaysia Basketball Association (MABA), I now have to think twice as to whether to host any basketball matches in my native state.
“I shudder at the thought of JAIK personnel raiding the games, waving summons to be slapped against our cagers or spectators in short pants for ‘indecent dressing’,” he added.