A transgender Malaysian has received death threats after reportedly announcing in a video that she intended to renounce Islam, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) and Free Malaysia Today (FMT) reported.
Comestics entrepreneur Nur Sajat had purportedly said during a live broadcast on Instagram that she wanted to quit the religion because she had been targeted by anti-transgender people despite not doing anything wrong.
Currently believed to be in hiding
Sajat herself is believed to be in hiding.
Both SCMP and The Star reported that she had failed to appear at a hearing in the Syariah High Court in February, on charges of insulting Islam by dressing up as a woman during a religious event at her beauty centre in 2018.
122 officers have since been deployed by the religious authorities of Selangor to track and arrest Sajat, according to The Malay Mail.
The move was condemned by Justice for Sisters, a transgender rights group, as extreme.
The organisation said:
“We are astonished by the financial and human resources that are being allocated for this search and arrest operation against Sajat
All these actions by JAIS (Selangor Islamic Religious Department) are extreme and demonstrate their overzealousness in arresting and detaining Sajat at all costs for merely expressing herself and her gender identity."
Public should not overreact but work on convincing Sajat instead: Former minister
The country's former minister for Islamic Affairs, Mujahid Yusof Rawa, called for the public not to overreact, but to convince her not to convert instead.
He said, "Who are we to judge her? Instead of punishing her, we should continue to persuade her nicely not to convert to another religion. That is the proper reaction."
NGOs condemn death threats against Sajat
NGOs in Malaysia have since condemned the death threats and voiced their concern for Sajat's safety.
A statement by Sisters in Islam has called for the death threats against Sajat to be taken seriously by authorities, and community and religious leaders alike.
The organisation also quoted Section 506 of Malaysia's Penal Code which criminalises death threats and added that it was "heartbreaking" when religious leaders and authorities chose to remain silent over such an issue.Meanwhile, Thilaga Sulathireh, who is the founder of Justice for Sisters, called the public reaction "extreme."
Sulathireh was quoted by FMT as elaborating, "Their extreme actions are legitimised by patriarchal interpretations of religion and laws that criminalise persons based on their gender identity, religious beliefs or lack thereof, freedom of expression and such."
She added that it was worrying calls for violence and death threats could be issued with a "high level of impunity" in the country and that Sajat's situation should not be taken lightly.
Top collage via NurSajat24 Instagram