Malaysian activists question role of Muslim ‘fashion police’

Jul 28, 2015

by Reuters

Women in Malaysia, long seen as a moderate Islamic nation, have been denied entry to government buildings on the grounds their skirts were too revealing, fanning fears of growing conservatism in a country with large non-Muslim minorities.

Prime Minister Najib Razak’s reluctance to intervene on the sudden enforcement of a dress code, analysts say, shows the liberal-minded leader is unwilling to stand up to conservatives at a time when he is battling allegations of corruption.

Ethnic sensitivities can often trigger dispute in Malaysia, particularly as none of those criticized for their clothes was from the Muslim Malay community that forms two-thirds of a population of about 30 million. Ethnic Chinese number 25 percent, and Indians about 7 percent.

The dress code, which bars revealing clothes for women in government buildings, had not been strictly followed, so the tougher enforcement over garments seen as showing too much leg came as a shock to many Malaysians.

The incidents went viral on social media, with activists saying they highlighted an expansion of powers for minor officials, who can now judge, and correct, women’s attire.

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27 comments on “Malaysian activists question role of Muslim ‘fashion police’

  • Allah just hates tits and bums (wrists, ankles, arms, legs……) which is why all moslems are born fully clothed.
    Creationism of the christian ilk is proved (as if any more proof were needed after the banana) because god specifically created the fig tree so that Adam and Eve could cover up. it has nothing to do with food or the environment it provides for that weird little wasp.

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  • Women of Malaysia, this is how it starts. Cover your ankle. Cover your knees. Cover your forearms and then your shoulders. Now your hair is too scandalous. Next it’s your mouth that is too obscene.

    From freedom to burka in one generation. It could happen if you don’t push back.

    The Koran does NOT say to cover your hair. It is control freaks around you that are saying that. They have no right to speak for Allah. That is haram.

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  • LaurieB
    Jul 28, 2015 at 3:11 pm

    From freedom to burka in one generation. It could happen if you don’t push back.

    It seems the French are pushing back when it was tried on them!

    Nude Protest On French Riviera After Beach Closes For Saudi Royal Visit

    Nude swimmers joined demonstrators on the French Riviera on Monday to protest against a public beach being closed to locals during a visit by a billionaire Saudi Royal.

    Authorities sealed off Mirandole beach in Vallauris on Saturday to prevent protesters from occupying it as King Salman and his 1,000-strong entourage arrived for a three-week vacation.

    Some 100,000 people have signed a petition against the closure and the King’s plans to build a staircase and wooden walkways from his holiday home down to the beach in Vallauris.

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  • Dear Malaysian ultra-conservatives,

    There is nothing at all wrong with muslin. In fact, it’s lightweight and breathable…perfect for those hot summer months!

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  • Alan

    It’s so completely awesome that the King and his fucking entourage (gag) have boatloads of money and can just up and fly away from their human rights hellhole of a country. Yup! South of France is great. I was just there last October. What in the world would possess these puritanical tight asses to go there?

    I like the nude protest thing. I was immediately reminded of the sans culottes. From Wiki:

    The sans-culottes (French: [sɑ̃kyˈlɔt], “without culottes”) were the common people of the lower classes in late 18th century France, a great many of whom became radical and militant partisans of the French Revolution in response to their poor quality of life under the Ancien Régime.

    What’s needed now in the South of France is a strong statement and may we call it the SANS VETEMENTS protest movement! It should last for the entire time that those prigs are in residence there and should not be isolated to the beaches. Those shops and gorgeous cafes should participate. In the spirit of Marie Antoinette: Free cake for the nudies!! Gendarmes in the buff. The mayor in his birthday suit. Oh yes.

    Isn’t it sad that the worst victims of brutal Islamic torture have no money and no way at all to escape from their misery? They would be so happy just to have some freedom and dignity and control of their own destiny in a simple life, never mind a goddamned toilet made of solid gold and an elevator that lowers them down to the sand. That royal family is responsible for keeping millions of Muslim women in forced domestic and reproductive slavery. I’m surprised that King dares to raise his pompous ass off his golden throne and cross over his own border what with the grumbling all around him by his own citizens. That’s a revolution waiting to happen…


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  • In Canada we have the religious police who arrest topless women on beaches. There is no law against being topless (required by equality) Christians think they have a right to impose their religious notions on everyone else.

    Other times they will not arrest just try to persuade women to dress because nearby Christians have complained.

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  • Or you could try recent French News:…

    where are gang of muslim girls have attacked a 21 yr old woman in a French park for wearing a bikini. The muslim ‘moral fashion’ police are everywhere nowadays

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  • Please note that in Malaysia, a Malaysian MUST be one of the state-allowed religions. Also that Malay Malaysians (2/3rds of the population) are assumed to be muslim and cannot change their faith.

    It is not a very liberal country and the Government is currently in serious political trouble, what with corruption charges and human trafficking in the North.

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  • 11
    NearlyNakedApe says:

    The sans-culottes (French: [sɑ̃kyˈlɔt], “without culottes”) were the common people of the lower classes in late 18th century France, a great many of whom became radical and militant partisans of the French Revolution in response to their poor quality of life under the Ancien Régime.

    A little background for the expression “sans-culottes”. First off, culottes = pants in French.

    This expression is a metaphor used to describe people living in an extreme state of poverty. IOW, they’re so poor that they can’t afford to have pants. It’s kind of archaic and very rarely used nowadays.

    So the “Sans-vetements” protest movement idea is both a relevant variation on the sans-culottes expression as well as a historical innuendo to the counter-monarchy sans-culottes movement.

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  • Anybody remember the 50’s and early 60’s in the US? Being sent home from school for wearing denim, too-short skirts, t-shirts. I don’t even think the rules were religiously motivated. Everybody KNEW what was right and wrong regardless of religious persuasion, and if a person wouldn’t follow the rules, look out. The self appointed judges pronouncement was: “The rules are the rules and there’s nothing to be done about them.” It’s still the case in plenty of places in the US today. The pendulum swung in some places, thank goodness. I hated rules that seemed stupid then. I hate them now. But assessing the likelihood of getting the Malaysian populace to be anything but glacial in making positive cultural changes may lead us to simplicisticism, a word I just made up meaning willingness to dumb down discussions, based on the belief that details will otherwise make decision making impossible . (That’s the error that makes it so important to use care in deciding what to wish for.) What are we going to do about it? I hope it doesn’t involve and invasion.

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  • Whilst we can attack silly rules we mustn’t forget that cultural differences between nations do exist and differing moral sensibilities on the issue of dress within Malaysia may be different to those in Europe and elsewhere. Cultural norms do not become illegitimate just because they are religiously inspired.

    Let the Malaysians decide for themselves what the dress code should be.

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  • Ipse Dixit

    cultural differences between nations do exist

    Traditional fashions that are indigenous to any particular society are beautiful and very interesting. That is why it’s such a shame when the hejab, a statement of political Islam, spreads rapidly throughout a population of women and displaces their traditional clothing. What I support for women is that they have free choice of their own native traditional clothing or clothing from another culture that they like and have their own reasons for choosing. What is unacceptable is when the religious leaders of their society insist on choosing their clothing FOR them and this is always enforced with explanations of how women are immoral for showing too much sin. They are blamed for their own rapes if they don’t dress and behave as the fascist religious fundamentalists forced them to do.

    Do you suppose that all Muslim women want to wear the hejab? They don’t want to. Some hopelessly brainwashed fundamentalist Muslim women are thrilled to wear it. They enjoy coercing other women to wear it too, making them feel guilty for not being as superior a Muslim as they imagine themselves to be. They are insidious gender traitors. Many women wear it because their lives have been threatened if they refuse to wear it (Algeria). Some young women wear it because they can’t remember a time when women wore anything else.

    The Koran does not instruct Muslim women to cover their hair, or to wear any robes or any other clothing item. It only instructs them to dress modestly. Muslim women have done just fine interpreting that word for themselves until fundamentalist Islamic extremism went on a rampage through their countries.

    You may be surprised to hear that there are high profile Muslim women who have risked their lives to rail against the fascist religious fashion police who are persecuting them. They are not trying to destroy their culture, they are trying to save it.

    May I suggest reading a bit on the disagreements between cultural relativists and human rights ethicists? At first glance you may think that you are doing the honorable thing to defend women’s right to wear the hejab and other puritanical religiously driven attire when in fact you are actually supporting the oppression of women instead. Traditional culture is all well and good until we discover that the weaker groups in society (women, children, animals etc) are suffering in misery due to some old traditional/religious habit, ritual or superstition. I’m sure you don’t want to defend anything like this. If I am right about this then have the guts to stand up for the downtrodden in this world and state clearly that bad old harmful ideas must be tossed in the garbage heaps of time. Some old traditions are good but many are downright cruel.

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  • LaurieB:

    I think that culinary, sartorial and social traditions are basically determined by the environment: the raw materials on hand for food, fabrics and families; in other words, they’re natural and to be celebrated.

    Only when those who are religious control freaks and “sexophobes” get into the act does the trouble start.

    And I submit that since the only monotheistic religion to have NOT undergone a reformation is Islam, the trouble its leaders wreak can be of a particularly antediluvian, repressive and vicious nature.

    I have to emphasise that my criticisms are never of the individual rank and file religious person, only the doctrines and dogmas they’ve had heaped upon them from their earliest age; ad hominem challenges are gratuitous.

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  • Stafford Gordon,

    I have to emphasise that my criticisms are never of the individual rank and file religious person, only the doctrines and dogmas they’ve had heaped upon them from their earliest age;

    I agree that the doctrines and dogmas should be attacked without hesitation.

    What I’d like to know more about is where do you think the line is reached when a stronger reproach is called for? I’ll tell you what my guideline is for this. I will ignore the influence of religion if I think it is basically harmless stupidity, but if I think that someone’s beliefs are causing harm to others then I don’t feel it is wrong to intercede. I think this is a basic principle of ethics.

    People should be free to believe what they want as long as it doesn’t harm anyone. The problem for the secular non-believer is when the rank and file moderate believers support and even enforce the application of unethical, harmful traditions, rituals and superstitions which as we know from articles on this website, happens all too often. I suppose our problem now is how to know where to draw the line in our criticism of those rank and file believers. I realize that there won’t be a rigid formula that we could employ for this so that’s why at this point I am using the harm to others as my guideline.

    ad hominem challenges are gratuitous.

    If I’ve dropped an ad hom statement that is unbecoming then I’d appreciate the correction, but it is my understanding that there is a case to be made for the use of ad hom statements where it might be warranted. Consider this explanation from Wiki:

    Non-fallacious ad hominem reasoning[edit]
    When an ad hominem argument is made against a statement, it is important to draw a distinction whether the statement in question was an argument or a statement of fact (testimony). In the latter case the issues of the credibility of the person making the statement may be crucial.[8]
    Doug Walton, Canadian academic and author, has argued that ad hominem reasoning is not always fallacious, and that in some instances, questions of personal conduct, character, motives, etc., are legitimate and relevant to the issue,[11] as when it directly involves hypocrisy, or actions contradicting the subject’s words.

    I will grant you this; my ad homs that I chucked around in the comment above were over the top, but will you consider that the degree of hypocrisy displayed by the object of them were enough to justify my ad hominem statements?

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  • My comment regarding the ad hominem approach wasn’t in any way shape or form a reflection on you LaurieB, it was simply a statement of fact concerning my criticisms.

    I don’t know where the line for stronger criticism lies; that’s part of the problem, since religious belief is so profoundly subjective it’s terribly difficult to criticise it without being personal.

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  • Stafford Gordon
    Jul 30, 2015 at 1:46 pm

    My comment regarding the ad hominem approach . . . .

    As LaurieB posted, I think the issue is the substance of the criticism, and the relevance of any personal failings or inadequacies.

    An ad-hom is essentially an attempt to evade the issues by disparaging the person or simply offering abuse.

    Addressing the subjects raised is important, but particularly in the case of ignoramuses posing as false authorities, debunking their pseudo-expertise is quite legitimate in dealing with the implied issues.

    We frequently see irrational science duffers on site, with their large collection of fallacies, lecturing others, with airs of superiority, on what is valid science and logic!!!

    Such people invite ridicule!

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  • My dad used to say that if you ask a silly question you get a silly answer.

    I always try to stay calm and proceed Socratically when engaging with a religious individual, but I often fail, because when you drill down into their religious faith the answers do very often become silly.

    It seems to me that trying to stay on the straight and narrow in a conversation with someone about their seemingly baseless comfort blanket notions, is like trying to sweep water into a pile, or nail jelly to the ceiling.

    I often ask myself the question, why bother? And I suspect that were I to dwell on it, the answer would indeed be silly.

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  • Stafford Gordon,

    I notice that you use the word “silly” to describe how the religious answer questions. I think this has to do with why I would be more inclined to lob ad homs right from the get go. I rarely interpret their answers or behaviors as “silly”. The minute I detect a whiff of bad intentions toward women by religiously-afflicted people, my sense of humor goes drifting away. It’s a very short distance from the conclusion that someone harbors harmful ideas to the ad homs presenting themselves in the front of my mind. I think my feminist perspective does prompt me to maintain a defensive posture around religious leaders and the religiously afflicted in general.

    Just a hypothesis but I’ll bet our atheist women and atheists in general who feel put upon personally from a disagreeable exit from their respective religions are slightly more on the defense and therefore quicker to toss the ad hom out there. 🙂 Disclosure: I see the world through the lens of experimental psych.

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  • I have seen a small group of men and women walking nude in Berkeley on Telegraph Avenue during a busy day. And what do you know…. NO one went crazy, no one committed murder, and people did not lose their minds. Just how can that be??? Also remember that Janet Jackson’s right breast was exposed for three seconds during a super bowl !!! Oh how horrible ! The end of the world is near.

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  • It is interesting that in nudist colonies or on nude beaches a woman is never raped and men do not lose their senses. Why all this craziness in the Muslim controlled nations (or Christian) about skin or exposed genitals? Truly sounds like a mental disorder, not some fantasized God given moralistic standard of behavior.

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  • Roedy
    Jul 28, 2015 at 10:03 pm

    In Canada we have the religious police who arrest topless women on beaches. There is no law against being topless (required by equality) Christians think they have a right to impose their religious notions on everyone else.

    There does seem to be a reaction against this:-

    Hundreds of Canadian woman joined a topless protest march after three sisters were allegedly stopped by police for cycling without shirts.

    Saturday’s “Bare with us” march took place in Waterloo, Ontario. The women say that police told them to cover up whilst cycling in the neighbouring town of Kitchener last month.

    They have filed a formal complaint with the police.

    It is legal for women to be topless in Ontario after a court ruling in 1996.

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  • DonaHilaria
    Jul 29, 2015 at 4:39 am

    Allons, enfants de la Patrie – le jour de gloire est arrivé!

    It seems the message (although denied), is getting across!

    King Salman of Saudi Arabia has cut short a holiday on the French Riviera where the closure of a beach for his security caused an uproar.

    After only eight days of what was planned as a three-week stay, the king flew on to Morocco, officials said.

    With him were at least half of his 1,000-strong entourage, regional official Philippe Castanet added.

    Critics of the move said it was a breach of French laws on equality.

    A Saudi source quoted by Reuters said the king’s departure was part of his holiday programme and not connected to the media coverage the visit had attracted.

    Mr Castanet told AFP news agency that the beach would reopen to the public on Monday morning.

    He said a temporary lift connecting the beach with the villa – which had also angered local residents – would be removed in the coming weeks.

    Building the lift had involved pouring a large concrete slab on the sand.

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