KUALA LUMPUR, May 4 — Minister in charge of Islamic affairs Datuk Zulkifli Mohamad has brushed aside queries about his presence at a tahnik ceremony for popular singer Datuk Siti Nurhaliza’s newborn here on April 26, amid criticism that the event violated Covid-19 restrictions.

News portal Free Malaysia Today (FMT) reported that the former Federal Territories mufti had remained tightlipped when asked if his presence there contravened the standard operating procedures (SOPs).

“I have no comment,” Zulkifli was quoted as saying.

A question about the presence of popular preacher Azhar Idrus at the ceremony was similarly met with silence, the news portal reported. 

Tahnik is an Islamic ritual where a pious or holy man touches the lips or palate of a newborn baby with sweet food, usually honey or dates. 

Tahnik is described as a sunnah, or a practice believed to have been performed by the Prophet Muhammad. It is not compulsory.

Siti is among several Malay celebrities now facing mounting public criticism over allegations that they violated Covid-19 SOPs, often at events caught on video or captured in photos. 

Many of the videos and photos, available publicly on their social media pages, have since gone viral.

Siti has dismissed allegations that her newborn’s tahnik violated Covid-19 restrictions and claimed Zulkifli did not attend the ceremony as a special guest but merely “dropped by” to pray and perform the ritual, FMT reported. 

He was said to have left immediately.

The popular singer also defended Azhar, saying he did not cross state borders to be at the event, according to the news portal. She claimed the preacher was coincidentally in the capital city when he agreed to attend the ceremony.

Siti, at one point critical of the establishment, said she is more than willing to cooperate with the authorities.

Yesterday, Ampang district police chief Mohamad Farouk said an investigation has been opened against Siti under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342).