Concert-goers unhappy with Jakim guidelines

Jakim's new guidelines for performances includes segregating audiences based on gender. — File pic
Jakim's new guidelines for performances includes segregating audiences based on gender. — File pic

PETALING JAYA, April 20 — Concert-goers are questioning the rationale behind some of Malaysian Islamic Development Department’s (Jakim) new guidelines for performances.

This includes segregating audiences based on gender and that men and women should not mingle freely even during rehearsals.

‘‘So does this mean I can’t be with my younger sister when we go to a concert together?’’ asked engineer Azahar Ruslan, 31.

‘‘What about parents with younger children? Do they have to be segregated as well?’’

‘‘Are these guidelines only for Muslim audiences, or will they affect the non-Muslims too?”

Sales representative Nurasyikin Azlan, 23, said gender segregation at events was “a step too far and impractical”.

‘‘I understand if you want performers to be decently dressed, that’s just being culturally sensitive to Malaysian norms,” she said. 

‘‘But I don’t see how a mixed-gender audience would lead to immoral activity. What do you think people are going to do in such big crowds?’’

Jakim’s updated entertainment guidelines were passed in February during the 107th convention of the National Fatwa Committee. The first version was published in 2007.

The new guidelines also include prohibitions against cross-dressing performers, jokes which cause ‘‘excessive laughter’’, and any symbolism which contradicts Islamic teachings.

Executive S. Ramesh said the guidelines may deter international acts from coming to Malaysia and cause a dent in tourism.

“These sort of rules would affect our image as a moderate country. As long as performers are decent onstage, there is no need for more restrictions,” he said.

“If they want to do this at events, are they going to ask for separating men and women at cinemas and restaurants too?’’ 

Student Miriam Abdullah, 22, felt the guidelines were a knee-jerk response to a controversial K-pop concert where fans were chided for hugging a Korean artiste.

“But if these are merely suggestions, I’m not sure how they will be enforced,” she said.

“Unless the guidelines become law, I’m not too bothered by them. They can make as much noise as they want.”

Businessman Naim Mohd Jamal, 29, said the guidelines were ‘‘hypocritical compared to what we already see on television”.

“Local Malay dramas are full of actors dressed ‘inappropriately’, with men and women mingling freely. Is Jakim going to go after them too?’’ he said.

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