Malaysia Islamic authorities probe 'dog patting' event

I Want To Touch A Dog day at Central Park, Bandar Utama. Islamic authorities in Malaysia are conducting a probe into a controversial "dog patting" event aimed at removing the stigma regarding men's best friend in the multi-ethnic Muslim-majority
I Want To Touch A Dog day at Central Park, Bandar Utama. Islamic authorities in Malaysia are conducting a probe into a controversial "dog patting" event aimed at removing the stigma regarding men's best friend in the multi-ethnic Muslim-majority country. -- PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Islamic authorities in Malaysia are conducting a probe into a controversial "dog patting" event aimed at removing the stigma regarding men's best friend in the multi-ethnic Muslim-majority country.

The event, titled "I want to touch a dog" and held in a park on the outskirts of the capital Kuala Lumpur Sunday, encouraged patting dogs - seen as unclean in Islam - and reportedly drew hundreds of Muslims, raising the ire of religious leaders.

Islamic authorities said they would investigate the event, while a Muslim leader, Nooh Gadut, said the event was an attempt to insult clerics.

"Don't try to create a culture that is opposite to Islam," he was quoted by local media as saying.

The Muslim organiser, Syed Azmi Alhabshi, 30, had said his intention was to help people overcome their fear of dogs and promote compassion towards animals.

AFP was not immediately able to contact him or religious authorities for further comments Tuesday.

Many Malaysians, who are active social media users, posted positive comments about the event online.

"This is so heart warming to see a good change in my home country," one Facebook user said, while another remarked: "I was so happy to see so many happy dogs, eager-to-share dog owners and above all the predominantly Malay Muslim crowd who really embraced the whole thing."

Muslims who patted dogs last Sunday took part in a special washing ritual at the end of the event.

The Southeast Asian country generally practises a moderate brand of Islam, but conservative views have gained increasing traction in recent years with minorities complaining of what they see as Islamisation.