Activist in ‘dehijabing’ forum says summoned by Jais for allegedly insulting Islam

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Lee said the investigation involves Section 10(a) of the Shariah Offences Enactment (Selangor) 1995. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 24 — Activist Maryam Lee confirmed today that the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) has summoned her over what she believes to be an investigation into an alleged insult to Islam.

In a statement, the writer said the case is linked to a forum on Malay women and discarding the hijab back in April, where her book Unveiling Choice was also launched.

“Though the letter does not say the reason for the investigation, I believe it is most likely related to the contents of my book, Unveiling Choice, published earlier this year,” Lee said.

“The launching of the book got the attention of the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department for Religious Affairs, [Datuk] Mujahid Yusof Rawa, who asked for the forum at the launch to be investigated.”

Maryam said the investigation involves Section 10(a) of the Shariah Offences Enactment (Selangor) 1995, that handles those who “insults or brings into contempt the religion of Islam”.

Those found guilty can face a fine up to RM5,000, a jail term of not more than three years, or both.

Maryam also urged her readers to send their testimonies to the authorities explaining how the book is not insulting Islam, and calling for them to drop investigations against those sharing personal journeys of women taking off their hijab.

Maryam appeared in the forum in April with legal professional and social media commentator Dian Sofia, and journalist and women’s rights activist Mohani Niza.

The event organised by publisher and bookstore Gerakbudaya received backlash from some Muslims on social media, after positively presenting the perspectives and opinions of several Malay women who “dehijab”, or no longer cover their hair.

Mujahid later commented that Jais will take action accordingly, following public furore over the event.

The trio had explained that the three-hour discussion was an intellectual discourse based on the women’s lived realities, looking at the phenomenon from sociological and historical perspectives, along with discussions on the socio-political realities of Malaysian girls and women today.

There are differing views among Muslim scholars as to whether it is obligatory for Muslim women to cover their hair as part of the aurat, or “intimate parts”.

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