NGO says Muslim-only policy an act of segregation, bigotry

Sisters in Islam (SIS) says the growing number of incidences in Malaysia where there is discrimination premised on the Islamic faith, is alarming.

sis-laundryPETALING JAYA: Sisters in Islam (SIS) has warned that actions such as that of the Muslim-only self-service launderette in Muar would have a negative impact on non-Muslims as it would make them feel they are being discriminated against.

SIS said Islam was a religion of fairness and justice, with a high regard for human dignity.

“The perception that non-Muslims are considered unclean and thus unable to mix laundry with the Muslims is, in simple terms, prejudice and bigotry,” the Muslim women’s rights NGO said in a statement today.

“It should be seen as such and not as an excuse for ‘Islamic requirements’. It is an assumption which has no basis,” it added.

“This will surely be seen by non-Muslims as a form of discrimination against them

“If this is allowed to continue, what other forms of discrimination would be imposed upon them in the future?”

SIS said the growing number of incidences where there was discrimination premised on the Islamic faith, was alarming.

It said Malaysians needed to be guided by the Federal Constitution which prohibits discrimination based on faith, among other things.

The NGO urged the religious authorities and leaders of Johor to take a moderate and enlightened approach to the issue, and to advise for tolerance and community building to be embraced lest such cases become the norm.

It said the launderette operator’s move was yet another divisive policy that would further segregate and isolate multiracial and multi-religious communities from each other.

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“This is causing such great disunity in our beautiful nation,” it said.

“Implementing such a policy in a multiracial community enforces segregation and puts the community at risk of having racial disharmony or tension. It perpetuates the idea that the non-Muslim community is unclean.”

It was reported today that the launderette had displayed a sign at its entrance that read: “Only for Muslims.” The photo of the sign went viral on social media.

The 40-year-old launderette operator meanwhile has maintained that he was only carrying out his duty as a Muslim.

He told a Chinese daily yesterday that while Chinese and Indian Muslims were welcome at his launderette, non-Muslims could visit other laundrettes that had opened nearby.

Johor mufti Mohd Tahrir Samsudin however, was reported as saying that the launderette operator’s move was commendable. “Cleanliness is a priority for Muslims,” a Malay daily reported the mufti as saying.

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Sektor pelancongan nusantara merupakan salah satu sektor yang penting dalam ekonomi negara. Sehingga kini, seksyen pelancongan merupakan sektor kelima terbesar negara selepas sektor perkhidmatan kewangan, kelapa sawit, borong dan runcit, gas dan tenaga, dan petroleum dengan memberikan sebanyak RM36.9 bilion kepada Keluaran Negara Kasar (KNK).

Pun begitu pada peringkat awal selepas pasca kemerdekaan Malaysia, kerajaan tidak memberi penekanan terhadap sektor pelancongan. Kerajaan pada ketika itu lebih memberi tumpuan kepada pembangunan infrastruktur negara dan melawan ancaman communism. Selain itu, penyebab ancaman dari luar seperti konfrantasi dengan Indonesia turut menjejaskan tujuan kerajaan pada ketika itu. Ia serta merta melambatkan pekembangan sektor pelancongan di Malaysia.

Pada era tahun 1960, sektor pelancongan masih belum mewujudkan peranan yang utama terhadap perkembangan ekonomi negara. Kerajaan pada masa itu memberi tumpuan kepada sektor hasil bumi seperti bijih timah dan getah. Sektor hasil alam tersebut telah menyumbang sebanyak 45% kepada keluaran Negara kasar (KNK) pada tahun 70-an.