PETALING JAYA: Federal Territories mufti Datuk Dr Zulkifli Mohamad al-Bakri (pic) reached out to the transgender community, broadcasting his one-hour dialogue with them live on his official Facebook page.
Organised by Pertubuhan Kebajikan Dan Kesihatan Umum Malaysia (PKKUM) with the help from social activist Syed Azmi Alhabshi, the dialogue entitled ‘Masih Ada Yang Sayang’ (We Still Care) aimed to build a bridge between the transgender community and the society.
During the dialogue, Dr Zulkifli said he was there not to condemn, judge or punish the community but rather to find a common ground.
“We are not here to find faults and we are not here to say who wins or who loses. It is our aim to talk about the good deeds that you have done in your life and how to improve yourself as a person,” Dr Zulkifli said.
He also encouraged the community to continue contributing to the society, advising them to seek better job opportunities rather than resort to sex work.
“Everyone has their own strengths. They should not give up even when they hit rock bottom,” he said, citing the success story of renowned Harry Potter author J.K Rowling.
“When her husband left her with a child, she continued pursuing her dreams despite her failures,” said Dr Zulkifli.
He also said there were many other ways to be successful as long as it did not go against the religion.
However, a member of the audience disagreed, saying that becoming a sex worker was not by choice but more of a result of circumstances.
Despite some disagreement during the dialogue, Syed Azmi said he was happy that it had served its purpose, which was to create better understanding.
“The mufti was calm and receptive to differing views throughout the dialogue. I have so much respect for him as he was willing to listen and learn about the community,” he told The Star, adding that he hoped for more of such dialogues in the future.
“The mufti has also invited them to his office in Putrajaya to have more dialogues. This is a good progress,” he said.
PKKUM said the dialogue showed that the mufti empathised with the struggles faced by minority communities in Malaysia, such as those living with HIV and AIDS and transgender people.
“Although the dialogue was heavy and the mufti was not able to answer all questions immediately, the Mufti Department assured PKKUM that it would take note of what was shared and try to find solutions to the problems.
“PKKUM will be following up with the Mufti Department on the issues addressed to come up with progressive solutions that will help reduce the stigma in Malaysia,” it said in a statement.
The dialogue was held at PKKUM’s office in Chow Kit, Kuala Lumpur.
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