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The Sun
4 April 2008

Morality policing by authorities the wrong way to go

WE refer to the report "Proposal to punish non-Muslims for khalwat" in a local English daily on April 2.

Sisters in Islam (SIS) wishes to reiterate our strong objection to the current practice of moral policing by the state. It contravenes the Quranic injunction laid out in various verses such as "do not pry into others’ secrets" (Surah Al-Hujurat 49:12) and "Do not enter other houses except yours without first asking permission and saluting the inmates. If you are asked to go away, turn back. That is proper for you" (Surah An-Nur 24:27, 28).

The practice of barging into people’s houses and bedrooms in particular, clearly violates an individual’s right to privacy and human dignity protected by the Quran.

SIS wishes to remind the authorities that khalwat raids were never carried out during the prophet Muhammad s.a.w.’s lifetime and it was reported that the second Caliph Sayidina Umar was rebuked for barging into a suspect’s residence.

Such practice is also not the norm in many Muslim countries.
Moral policing by state religious authorities has often led to rampant abuses of power and there have been many reported cases where the moral guardians themselves did not behave in a moral conduct in their treatment towards those detained.

The zealousness of religious officials in "promoting good and preventing evil" has often led to public outrage because those arrested, especially women, were shamed and humiliated.

Sisters in Islam calls on the religious authorities to instead focus their resources on chasing after errant fathers who do not pay maintenance to their children and ex-wives.

Sisters in Islam
Via e-mail

(Ed: The organiser of the conference at which moral policing became an issue does not support its speakers’ views)