PETALING JAYA: The Kelantan Government has been criticised by several groups for trying to dictate how Muslim women should dress. The action was discriminatory and a gross infringement of women’s rights, said Sisters In Islam communication officer Akmal Zulkifli. She added that it was shocking that the state government had enacted council by-laws and was taking enforcement action to control the way women dressed. “Wearing the hijab should be an individual choice and not dictated by law. “How effective is it to force women to wear the hijab to cover up when they do not want to wear it?” added Akmal. She was commenting on the suggestion by Kelantan executive councillor Ahmad Baihaki Atiquallah that snoop squads be set up to check on Muslim women’s dressing in the state.
Currently, the local councils in Kelantan carry out enforcement and 225 compound fines have been issued for violation of dress code by-laws to date. Islamic Renaissance Front research fellow Ahmad Fuad Rahmat said establishing a snoop squad to monitor the way Muslim women dressed was ridiculous. “The goal of the Islamic dress code is modesty and one cannot force or scare people into being modest. “Once there is coercion and punishment, there is fear and the motive of dressing modestly becomes insincere,” Ahmad Fuad said. Research and Information Centre on Islam honorary secretary Adam Mohd Ibrahim said a state’s role in implementing a dress code for women should be encouraging and informative. Given this, the state should not punish women who flouted the dress code, added Adam. However, he said a woman should dress decently in public and save her beauty for her husband. Voice of Women founding president Chew Hoong Ling said all Muslims must first come to an agreement over the Islamic dress code before enforcement was implemented. “There are still Muslims who feel it’s up to the individual to decide how to dress. “Until all Muslims can agree on this issue, it should not be a law at all,” Chew said.
source: The Star