PETALING JAYA: Vigilante moral policing is not Islamic and authorities must act firmly against groups such as the Badar squad before other copycats go around harassing Muslims, say local Islamic leaders.
Penang mufti Datuk Seri Dr Wan Salim Wan Mohd Noor pointed out that the prevention of immorality in the general public spectrum is the responsibility of the government.
“Individuals are only duty-bound to admonish evil within certain limited confines such as among their family members,” he said.
Those who do so without authorisation should be charged with “invasion of privacy” and should be sued by the victimised individual or the party, he said.
Wan Salim said any action to prevent vice should not induce more harm than good.
He said those authorised to take action had to be patient and even delay enforcement until action could be taken without any harm occurring.
Perlis Mufti Datuk Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin said authorities must put a stop to vigilante moral policing or the country could turn into a Taliban-like state.
On Thursday, Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Mazlan Mansor said the Badar squad has been warned by police to stop its vigilante activities.
Badar squad founder Azhar Mohamad was arrested last January and fined RM1,000 for being involved in an illegal organisation, not registered with the Registrar of Societies.
However, just two days ago, Azhar had vowed to register the Badar squad under RoS, claiming there is public demand from Muslims to do so.
The vigilante squad targeted unwed couples in budget hotels in Sungai Petani, Kedah and conducted enforcement activities. The couples caught for khalwat were then given “counselling” at a cemetery.
Asri said that it is important to work within the laws of the country and Islam’s rules when one is preventing vice.
“Imagine if everyone does what the squad is doing.
“Everyone will take the law into their own hands. All Muslims must abide by the laws of the government,” said Asri.
Sisters In Islam (SIS) executive director Rozana Isa said that vigilante moral policing has become part of the Malaysian Muslim culture with many checking on neighbours in the name of religion.
She said the bigger question is whether those caught by the vigilante moral policing group get justice in court.
“I appreciate the deputy IGP telling them off in the legal sense but there is a bigger picture to this.
“We have allowed our society to think it is the duty of every Muslim to thwart vice even without authority and we have allowed it to go unchecked for a long time -- all under the pretext of religious duty,” said Rozana.
She also pointed out that Badar squad was never charged for their vigilante moral policing but more for being an illegal society.
Rozana said one way of stopping vigilante moral policing is to streamline the Syariah Criminal Offences Act in all states and include vigilante moral policing as an offence.
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