KOTA BARU (The Star/Asia News Network) - Confusion and anxiety reign following the latest move by the Kelantan Islamic Religious Affairs Department to haul up Muslim women for not wearing the tudung (head scarf) or for wearing tight-fitting clothes.
A statement by the state Mufti calling on non-Muslim women to stop wearing "sexy" clothes during the month of Ramadan also contributed to the confusion, prompting worry that even non-Muslims would be subjected to regulations governing their Muslim counterpart.
Prior to this, only women who worked in public places were issued with summonses of up to RM100 (S$33) if they failed to wear tudung or wore tight-fitting clothes and short sleeved blouses.
This was enforced under the Local Government By-Laws that is included in the conditions for the issuance of annual permits by the local council.
However, the latest move by the religious council to conduct operations to penalise Muslim women for not wearing a tudung is a new move.
The department's deputy enforcement chief Mohd Fadzuli Mohd Zain said the broad law regulating that women should wear tudung and not sexy or revealing clothing was already in place under the Syariah Criminal Enactment No. 2, 1985.
"This law has been in existence for quite some time.
"It is just that we are enforcing it now so that the public is aware that we can take appropriate action against them if they fail to comply," he told reporters yesterday.
Those found guilty can be fined up to RM1,000 or six months imprisonment or both.
On Friday, 31 Muslim women were hauled up for not wearing tudung and for wearing sexy or tight-fitting clothes under Ops Aurat.
Mohd Fadzuli said the women caught would be made to undergo counselling by religious officials and if they failed to attend the sessions, warrants of arrest would be issued against them.
He said 24 of the women were let off with a warning.
"We will be conducting a major operation statewide after this to catch those who wear revealing and tight-fitting clothes," he added.
State Mufti Datuk Shukri Mohamad was quoted on Friday as urging non-Muslim women to stop sporting provocative attire during Ramadan.
He said that although non-Muslims had the freedom to dress however they liked, they should be considerate towards the Muslims by dressing appropriately and not eating or drinking in front of them.
Mohd Fadzuli explained that during the holy month, when Muslim men bumped into sexily dressed women, it was considered haram.
He, however, assured non-Muslims that no action would be taken against them for eating in front of Muslims or for wearing sexy clothes.