Moral Amour: Malaysian States Crack Down on Valentine’s Day

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Illustration by Hadley Hooper

A handful of Malaysian states plan to carry out “immorality checks” on February 14 to ensure that the country’s lovers don’t get carried away.

Nasrudin Hasan Tantawi, head of the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) youth wing, announced Wednesday that serious measures would be taken to quell “immoral acts” during the annual Western celebration of affection. The crackdown is part of a PAS campaign to promote sin-free living, and will feature a series of searches by local authorities and the police and distribution of pamphlets on elements of Muslim morality.

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Participating are those four states—Kedah, Penang, Kelantan and Selangor—that are controlled by an opposition coalition of which PAS is a member. “We have identified spots in these states which are used by lovers and we are deploying local religious department officials as well as party members to stop such sinful acts as casual sex, which violates Islam,” Nasrudin told the AFP. The effort was sparked by liberties residents apparently took on last year’s holiday. According to Nasrudin, several hotels offered free rooms to unmarried couples and one movement even encouraged celebrators to shed their underpants.

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Offenders, Nasrudin said, will be prosecuted under Islamic law. Muslim-majority Malaysia operates according to a dual-track legal system whereby Muslims are bound by Shari’a law (in certain contexts) and non-Muslims are handled by the country’s civil courts. Said Nasrudin: “We are not trying to stop love, but want to ensure that whatever Muslims in Malaysia do is moral and in keeping with our faith.”  (via AFP)