KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 5 — Datuk Seri Mujahid Yusof Rawa should not have singled out entrepreneur Nur Sajat by pressuring the Malaysian Multimedia and Communications Commission (MCMC) to take action against her social media posts, civil rights group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) said today.
In a statement, LFL’s legal coordinator Zaid Malek said MCMC must be allowed to operate independently as an agency, reminding the minister in charge of religious affairs of freedom of expression enshrined in the Federal Constitution which cannot be arbitrarily limited.
He also reminded the Mujahid and MCMC that any action enacted against Nur Sajat over her choice of attire, would be unconstitutional, adding that the latter displayed a “heavy-handed response and inappropriate treatment” towards an ordinary citizen.
“Neither the minister nor his office should have exerted pressure on the MCMC, which like any other regulatory agency, should be allowed to work with independence from government ministers in accordance with their standard operating procedures,” Zaid said.
“We must remind minister Mujahid that the right to freedom of expression is enshrined in the Federal Constitution and cannot be arbitrarily limited, save for the purposes of national security, public order or other reasons stated in Article 10(2)(a).
“The feeling of ‘unease’ within a certain category of the public is not a valid justification for limiting Nur Sajat’s freedom of speech and expression,” he added.
On Monday, Mujahid, a minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, said he had met MCMC, calling it to act on the entrepreneur’s social media posts of her umrah or minor pilgrimage to Mecca.
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 and performing the rituals as a woman among female pilgrims, 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.
Zaid also reminded Mujahid that he holds a due responsibility to protect the fundamental rights of all Malaysians and must not pander to only certain segments of the society, while excluding others, cautioning that the minister’s actions would only serve to fuel intolerant groups.
Zaid pointed out that Nur Sajat also has equal rights like every other Malaysian, and deserves the same protection and respect from the State.
“Vulnerable groups such as the transgender community also require the protection of the State from hate and discrimination,” he said.
“Minister Mujahid’s knee jerk reaction to these mere social media posts serves only to empower intolerant groups and individuals to further persecute these already marginalised communities.”