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A Muslim woman uses a theodolite to perform "rukyah," the sighting of the new moon which signals the start of the holy month of Ramadan, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, June 16, 2015. (REUTERS/Olivia Harris)
A Muslim woman uses a theodolite to perform "rukyah," the sighting of the new moon which signals the start of the holy month of Ramadan, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, June 16, 2015. (REUTERS/Olivia Harris)

'Dehijabbing'

Investigation into Malaysian women who discussed not wearing hijabs raises eyebrows

By WITW Staff on April 22, 2019

Three women in Malaysia are being investigated by the country’s Islamic authorities after holding an event that discussed their decision to stop wearing hijabs.

The event, titled “Malay Women and Dehijabbing,” doubled as a book launch for Unveiling Choice, authored by activist Maryam Lee about her decision to relinquish the hijab. Though perfectly legal to do so, the three-hour talk was flagged by Malaysia’s religious affairs minister, Mujahid Yusof Rawa, who urged the local Islamic authorities to investigate it.

On Tuesday, religious officers visited the bookshop that had hosted the event and demanded to see copies of the book. They also interrogated the staff about what had been discussed. Under investigation are Maryam and two other Malaysian women, Mohani Niza and Dian Sofia, who had also decided to no longer wear the hijab.

The investigation is notable, as Malaysia is seen as a tolerant and progressive Muslim-majority nation. Many Muslim women there decide not to wear a hijab. But the growing influence of the Malaysian Islamic party has caused some to worry that the country is at risk of sliding into a more radical form of Islamic conservatism.

Latheefa Koya, executive director of civil rights group Lawyers for Liberty, decried the investigation. “Let a woman think freely and choose whether they want to wear the hijab or not,” she said.

Read more at the Guardian.

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