KUALA LUMPUR, July 21 — Perak mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria urged authorities to reconsider awarding licences for cinemas today, claiming that Muslims frequent them not to watch films but to indulge in “hanky panky”.

In a report by news portal Astro Awani, Harussani was quoted saying cinemas are a form of “vice” that is detrimental to the faith of Muslims in this country.

“The cinemas themselves are a vice, what more sitting at couple seats that encourage others to commit vice in the cinemas,” Harussani told Awani.

“No licence should have been awarded, they are there not to watch movies, but to ‘beromen’,” he added, using the Malay slang that roughly means “hanky panky”, but which is also used to mean “having sex”.

Harussani also urged religious enforcers to nab unmarried couples whenever they see any, and not just in cinemas.

“We spend so much money for preaching, but our own side is encouraging vice,” said Harussani.

“The cinemas are already showing ‘romen’ stories, people who watch them want to ‘romen’ at their own seats; I don’t get why all this is happening.”

Awani reported earlier today that a cinema outlet has banned unmarried Muslims from selecting couple’s seats — adjoining seats without an armrest separating the two — when frequenting its outlets in Perak.

The report said that the Lotus Five Star (LFS) cinema in Seri Iskandar, a township with several tertiary education institutions, had issued the ban following “advice” from the Perak Tengah Municipal Council.

It is unknown what by-law authorises the council to advise LFS’s management to implement the ban.

It is also unclear how the cinema enforces the ban or what action will be taken for those who defy it.

Malay Mail Online cannot yet reach LFS or the council for verification.

LFS operates over 25 cinemas across the country, and is popularly known for showing Hindi and Tamil films.