KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 3 — Datuk Seri Mujahid Yusof Rawa said today Putrajaya regrets the action of cosmetics entrepreneur Nur Sajat, who performed the “umrah” or minor pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, amid ongoing controversy over her gender identity.
In a Sinar Harian report, the minister in charge of religious affairs also claimed that her action has put a blemish on the relationship between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.
“I regret her actions, and it was advertised on Instagram as if it was not an offence,” he was reported saying, referring to Nur Sajat wearing her female attire while performing "umrah".
Nur Sajat was criticised on social media after photos and videos of her performing the pilgrimage went viral.
Muslims who complained mostly took issue with her wearing women’s clothes during the pilgrimage, as they accused her of not being a woman.
Nur Sajat continues to be hounded by authorities and some in the public over her gender identity.
In January 2018, the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) had insisted that Nur Sajat needed to undergo a lengthy process in order for authorities to officially verify her gender.
Saudi Arabia only allows pilgrims to identify either as “male” or “female” in its visa application.
Travel agency Albayt Travel (M) Sdn Bhd, which managed Nur Sajat’s trip, has explained that it has taken very careful steps to prepare Nur Sajat and her family for the trip.
However, Albayt said it had already advised its clients to not publicise the pilgrimage, as the company was worried of backlash from some Muslims.