Refusing hugs is rude, Zaid says in defending ‘innocent’ girls in K-pop incident

Datuk Zaid Ibrahim (left) says the three Muslim fans caught up in a controversy on their hugging by K-pop stars during a concert last week are ‘innocent’. ― File pic
Datuk Zaid Ibrahim (left) says the three Muslim fans caught up in a controversy on their hugging by K-pop stars during a concert last week are ‘innocent’. ― File pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 15 ― Refusing hugs or handshakes is “rude”, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim said today as he declared the three Muslim fans caught up in a controversy on their hugging by K-pop stars during a concert last week as “innocent” girls.

Zaid also said that Muslims should not be rude or arrogant as he sought to defend what he viewed as a “harmless” gesture between stars and fans.

“Ezra 3 girls innocent. If people hug u or offers a handshake its rude to refuse. Muslims must never be rude or sombong,” he wrote on Twitter today via his @zaidibrahim handle.

When contacted, Zaid confirmed that he was referring to the controversy which has since led to a probe by the Federal Territories Islamic Department (Jawi), saying that it’s a “small matter” that “should never have been an issue in the first place”.

“Young people who attend concerts, if the stars hug them, what can they do? It’s just a harmless sign of affection, there’s nothing wrong with that,” he told Malay Mail Online today.

“We shouldn’t waste our time. Government departments should not waste time on this,” he said, also pointing out that there was hugging in other concerts held locally, including a recent one by India’s movie star Shah Rukh Khan.

Since Tuesday, Zaid has written a series of tweets on this incident, including a call to JAWI to “stop harassing the Malay girls” and expressing hope that their parents will take the Islamic agency to court.

“We must oppose moral policing at all cost. Fascism takes root when people show sign of fear,” he wrote in another of his tweets.

In his tweets, Zaid had also suggested that the presence of “VVIP” or important guests during a Shah Rukh Khan concert where there was “hugging” resulted in no actions being taken, contrasting it with the situation where the youths who wanted to have a little enjoyment ended up being part of a national debate.

Yesterday, Utusan Malaysia reported that JAWI said it will apply for an arrest warrant if the Malay girls refuse to turn themselves in for investigation within a week, but the department’s official told Malay Mail Online that they may be spared prosecution and sent for rehabilitation instead if they are underage.

On Monday, JAWI said it is investigating the girls for public indecency and outraging Muslims, and would probe the matter under Section 29 of Shariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act 1997.

Section 29 of the Act allows for a fine of up to RM1,000 and imprisonment of no more than six months upon conviction.

The controversy erupted after a video of the meet-the-fans session here for K-pop band B1A4 on Saturday was uploaded online, prompting thousands of angry Facebook users to share and comment on a three-minute viral video of the artists hugging and embracing the tudung-clad Malay girls on stage.

The clip, which was posted on the Sukan Star TV Facebook page, was suggestively titled “Perempuan melayu dicabul atas pentas oleh mat kpop semalam” (Malay girls molested on stage by K-Pop artists last night).

But B1A4’s management firm WM Entertainment has since then denied claims that its artistes “molested” the three Malay girls, saying that they were mindful of local Muslim sensitivities and said consent of the three had been obtained.

The mini-concert’s organisers TGM Events have also denied the molest claim, pointing out that the event company was run mostly by women and were against “molestation or sexual harassment”.

The organiser also said the fans were told beforehand not to “touch” or “get too close” to the B1A4 members, adding that the selected fans had given their full consent to appear on stage.

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