Couple seats? Only for those who're married

The ban on unmarried Muslim couples buying tickets for couple seats at the Lotus Five Star cinema (above) in Seri Iskandar in Perak has been in force since the cinema opened its doors two years ago, but photos that have since been circulated online h
The ban on unmarried Muslim couples buying tickets for couple seats at the Lotus Five Star cinema (above) in Seri Iskandar in Perak has been in force since the cinema opened its doors two years ago, but photos that have since been circulated online have sparked fierce debate.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

SERI ISKANDAR (Perak) • A Perak Tengah municipal council directive asking a cinema not to sell tickets for couple seats to unmarried couples has drawn fire.

"Couples who are not mahram (blood relatives) are not allowed to sit in couple seats," says a notice at the Lotus Five Star cinema in Seri Iskandar, reported the Malay Mail Online. The ban has been in force since the cinema opened its doors two years ago, but photos that have since been circulated online have sparked fierce debate.

Perak Tengah district council president Mad Dan Hassan said the notice was meant only for Muslim patrons, and the matter was decided during a full board meeting almost two years ago. State Non-Islamic Affairs Committee chairman Mah Hang Soon saw nothing amiss in the directive.

"Respect is key for the religion and culture of others, and I am totally against the idea of revoking the cinema's licence. The cinema is just following instructions from the local council," he said.

Asked about the directive, law student Muhammad Irfan Shahril, 20, felt it was a "violation of freedom". "I think there should not be such a regulation for unmarried Muslim couples," said the student from Bangi. "Indecent acts should not be carried out in public places, and we, as Muslims, must be well-mannered at all times."

Perak Mufti Harussani Zakaria wanted the authorities to reconsider the award of licences for cinemas altogether. "The cinemas themselves are a vice, what more (of) sitting at couple seats that encourage others to commit vice in the cinemas," he told news portal Astro Awani.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 24, 2015, with the headline 'Couple seats? Only for those who're married'. Print Edition | Subscribe