Monday, August 5, 2013

Jakim gives MCMC nod to go after dog trainer

The country's Islamic authorities have set the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) on dog trainer Maznah Yusof, saying action against her online video would be a “lesson to society not to repeat such acts”.

Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) director Datuk Othman Mustapha said his department today submitted its investigations paper on Maznah, also known as Chetz Yusof, to the commission and may also call her up for counselling.

“If authorities take action against her (Maznah) it will be seen as a lesson to her specifically and society at large not to repeat such acts,” Othman was quoted as saying by national news agency Bernama today.

On Tuesday, a 105-second video reposted on YouTube showed Maznah walking and bathing her three dogs as the “Takbir Raya”, or Muslim call to prayer traditionally reserved for the first day of Hari Raya Aidilfitri, plays in the background.

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The juxtaposition appeared to be a reference to the wudhu, or ablution performed by Muslims before prayer; dogs are also considered ritually unclean by adherents of the predominant faith in Malaysia.

Three days later, Jakim adjudged a video to be an insult to Islam and resulted in the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) pursuing investigations against her.

Today, Othman said the video was deemed offensive to Islam because it touched on aspects of Muslim worship and the ritually unclean.

“Jakim feels the issue was uncalled for, given the situation in Malaysia that places Islam as the religion of the Federation and which has a multicultural society that is largely Muslim,

“All citizens are called to respect one another in terms of religion, culture, and race,” Othman added.

On Saturday, Muslim women’s group Sisters in Islam (SIS) warned that Jakim risked the sin of “shirik” (idolatry) after seemingly speaking for God in judging the online video as offensive to Islam.

“We do, however, find it troubling that Jakim claims to ― and is recognised by other actors within government (such as MCMC) ― speak for Islam and for God,” said Suri Kempe, SIS's programme manager.

“To us, the video simply shows somebody who loves her dogs, and respects dogs as one of Allah’s creations, and who emphasises cleanliness,” she added.

Following the uproar over the 2010 video, Maznah was arrested and subsequently released from remand in Johor on Friday on a court bond.

The 38-year-old dog trainer is being investigated under the Sedition Act and Section 298A of the Penal Code that includes offences of causing disunity on religious grounds.

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