Postcard from Kuala Lumpur

Thinking of moving to Malaysia?

Malaysia runs parallel sharia and civil legal systems, with sharia courts dealing only with Muslims and mainly in family disputes or in matters such as khalwat or apostasy. It employs religious police to ensure Muslim compliance with Koranic laws. They sometimes patrol parks looking for young unwed couples holding hands, raid nightclubs to catch Muslims drinking alcohol and ensure Muslims observe the fasting month of Ramadan.

Ah does it. But…how do the religious police know who is Muslim? When they go into a park to try to find some evil couples holding hands, how do they know which couples contain Muslims and which don’t? Does everybody in Malaysia wear a large sign or label or a star coloured variously yellow, green, pink, and blue for Other? Do the Muslims have big arrows suspended in the air picking them out for the religious police? Does Allah go with the religious police and tell them who is which? Do all Muslims wear their hair a certain way? Do the religious police just find someone in a hijab and go on from there? Who knows. But at any rate it is interesting to contemplate life in a place where the police can tell you to stop holding hands with someone in a public park, and raid nightclubs to tell you to stop drinking alcohol, and ensure that you follow Ramadan. What do they do, wander around all day and when they find a Muslim (how do they know?) eating a falafel sandwich, snatch it away and fling it into the mud?

Some Muslims feel it is not fair to be punished for moral crimes that non-Muslims can freely commit. But non-Muslims, who make up around 40 percent of Malaysia’s population of 26 million, strongly resist attempts to impose standards of Muslim morality on them, even if these attempts are sometimes mistaken.

In other words some Muslims don’t want to be subject to sharia. No I should think they wouldn’t. But apparently the implication is not that sharia sucks, but that non-Muslims should be subject to the same stupid tyrannical intrusive none of your fucking business laws. Nice thought. We have idiotic clerical laws that make our lives miserable, therefore everyone should have laws like that. (And then there’s that absurd last clause – as if mistaken attempts to impose standards of Muslim morality on non-Muslims are no problem if they’re ‘mistaken.’ Of course they’re mistaken, they’re all mistaken, and that’s why people resist them! Der.)

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