122 religious officers hunt Nur Sajat over pink dress

Nur Sajat
Images: Nur Sajat Instagram

On Thursday, a ruling by Malaysia’s top court created hope for progress on LGBTIQ+ rights in the country. However, the same day, the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (JAIS) announced the mobilisation of 122 personnel to hunt down influencer and entrepreneur Nur Sajat. Her crime? ‘Offending Islam’ by wearing a pink dress to a 2018 event as part of her charity work.

Earlier this year JAIS summonsed Nur Sajat for an interview. Nur recorded the interview on her phone, which she kept hidden in her handbag during the interview. Officers said during the interview that her attendance at the charity event did not constitute a crime. However, they insisted elements of her clothing did violate the law.

Malaysia operates a two-tier system of justice. In addition to federal criminal laws, special Shariah courts in the thirteen states of the Malaysian federation enforce Islamic laws. Muslims who break the Islamic laws risk a range of punishments including fines, jail and caning. The Malaysian constitution assumes Malays are Muslim by virtue of birth. Muslims wishing to convert face numerous obstacles. Not the least of these, Islamic courts remain the sole arbiter of conversion.

Nur Sajat

Nur Sajat runs a successful beauty business called Nur Sajat Aesthetic. Previously, she and her employees distributed aid on a monthly basis as a charitable endeavour. Religious authorities claim JAIS received complaints in 2021 about her dress on a visit to a religious school in 2018.

She wore an extremely modest dress and headscarf similar to that in the main image above.

It appears Nur Sajat’s success and social prominence make her a target. Recently, religious authorities and Muslim hardliners made frequent references to her gender identity. Her often glamourous social media photos apparently also aroused the ire of conservatives.

Last year, the Selangor Religious Affairs Minister said Islamic enforcers would conduct more arrests and provide religious education so that the transgender community can ‘return to the correct path’.

The JAIS mobilised a force to arrest Nur Sajat after she failed to appear before an Islamic court on Tuesday to answer charges related to her dress at the 2018 event.

Despite the deployment of over a hundred officers, JAIS has apparently so far not succeeded in locating her.

Malaysian court decision

On Thursday, Malaysia’s top court ruled that Selangor’s Islamic courts had no jurisdiction in the case of a man accused of attempting gay sex. The Chief Justice declared that the primary power to enact criminal law lies with parliament. As federal law already outlaws same-sex acts, that therefore places such outside the jurisdiction of the various state’s religious courts.

Gay men in Malaysia face up to twenty years in jail under a colonial-era law banning gay sex. However, convictions are rare. Thus, religious authorities increasingly turn to the religious courts to target Malaysia’s LGBTIQ+ communities.

LGBT+ rights group the Pelangi Campaign called for states to respect the court decision.

Over the top pursuit of Nur Sajat a response to Federal court decision?

However, the Pelangi Campaign also retweeted posts suggesting some relationship between the court decision and the ridiculous abuse of power directed at Nur Sajat.

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  1. Peter Turner
    6 March 2021

    The silence in the international community over the human rights abuses in Muslim Countries is deafening. Where is the UN in all of this? Where are the sanctions? Nowhere to be seen as usual!! Western Governments should be offering asylum to LGBTQI+ people from these Countries as a matter of urgency.

  2. David Charls Chee
    26 April 2021

    No such thing that Nice sajat is been prosecuted in Malaysia, it’s her option to be what she wanted. In Malaysia LGBT is legal just she cannot change her ID card that is fine she still can have family with her boyfriend. She owns business that is allowed by the government but sajat is still Islam. There is still many people that became apostate and been punished severe. In nur sajat case is simple she just need to attend the court session and she will be out there is no nessasary asylum is granted for her as Malaysia federal court allow LGBT so there is no based of ground to apply Asylum in nursajat case. She should challenge the case is federal court instead in shariah and stop provoking the state government. It’s her personal to become LGBT and she can just be in Malaysia. By running away and hiding will not be possible to grant asylum as she need to use all the source and law existed in Malaysia. So but sajat need to be in Malaysia to start the case. In Malaysia under state law the most punishable is leaving Islam by going to the court and confessing not on Facebook or media. The apostate is counted from the day a person filed case in court and decline all the resources prepared by Jais authority and once the accused agree to not follow the religion in front of the court and religion authority then the Apostasy is taken place. So there is process of Apostasy. Maximum punishment is 3 years jail and 10 wiping with RM 5000 is something that is harsh but been practise for long time. In nursajat case she is still Islam and will be Islam is just the matter she told that she is disappointed with the authority that’s why she became apostate something is not accepted because she is Islam visited Mecca and done pilgrim so there is more severe cases rather than but sajat that need to be given priority. Nursajat is not officially apostate it’s just she is LGBT that Malaysia federal law can protect her. Asylum or protected person is only for people that really deserve not people who can be rich and became LGBT .
    Nursajat can get protection from Malaysia goverment federal law and can stay in Federal state Kuala Lumpur.

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