Malaysian ‘purity police’ swoop on pig bristle paint brushes
Thousands of paint brushes suspected of containing pig bristles were seized last week by Malaysian authorities after consumers in this Muslim-majority nation demanded a crackdown.
Pigs and dogs are considered unclean by many Muslims, who make up some 60 per cent of Malaysia’s 30 million people. It is illegal in the country to sell products made from any part of a pig or a dog, unless the goods are labelled and kept separately.
According to this report, Zarif Anwar, an enforcement official with the domestic trade and consumer ministry, said that since last Tuesday, officials nationwide have been inspecting shops selling paint brushes for art and commercial use.
He said the brushes seized were not labelled and found to have a different texture from other brushes and frayed ends, signs that they could be made from pig bristles.
In some cases, the brushes had a “halal” certification that had expired, he said. The halal tag is issued by an Islamic government body to certify products safe to be used by Muslims.
The seized brushes will be sent to a lab to be examined, Zarif said.
We want to protect consumers and we want traders to be aware of the religious sensitivity involved. This is a big offence.
He warned that traders who flout the rule face up to three years in jail, a fine of 100,000 ringgit (£18,000) or both.
Conservative attitudes have been on the rise in Malaysia. A wide range of products have been certified halal, from mineral water to a newly launched internet browser, to appeal to Muslims.
The Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia called for stricter enforcement not just for paint brushes, but for other products as well. An official from the group, Mr Nadzim Johan, said the association also received complaints that culinary brushes used in eateries may also contain pig bristles.
The key issue here is about labelling. We want Muslim consumers to be forewarned. It’s not fair to deceive them.
In other news from Malaysia, it is reported here that the country’s Islamic authority has suggested in a video that individuals can leap from homosexuality to heterosexuality like a person on a horse. The daft video was produced by the Islamic Development Department Malaysia (Jakim). Jakim said to change one’s sexual orientation, one must intend to do so for God’s sake instead of being forced to.
It also urged a repentant homosexual to quell his homosexual desires through heterosexual marriage, or subdue such desires by fasting.
The video also advised Muslims to be patient, and to help their LGBT friends change and return to the straight path.
Conversion therapy which consists of psychological treatment or spiritual counseling to change a person’s sexual orientation from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual, is widely seen by medical and scientific community as potentially harmful and a form of pseudo-science.
The practice is opposed and has been legally challenged, or even banned, in countries such as Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, Ecuador, Israel, Lebanon, Malta, South Africa, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The video has been watched more than 10,000 times, and received positive responses from Facebook users.
Azira Aziz wrote:
Congratulations Jakim for producing a video with no elements of hatred towards the LGBT. I hope Jakim’s missionary department can remind each state to not act rough towards the LGBT.
And Luq Harith wrote:
The video’s soft approach on advising, respect for privacy and emphasis on free will is definitely commendable. This is far better than saying they’re sinners, they’re going to hell.
The video however received criticisms for suggesting that homosexuality can be changed, such as by user Sheelabanu Sri Jaya who said:
This video is going to make people believe that there is a way to ‘change’ homosexuals into heterosexuals. No way you can do that.
And Huda Mutalib wrote:
I was not impressed by the video. And it’s very dangerous for them to encourage heterosexual marriage as a way to ‘fix’ the LGBT person, for the person, the spouse and the children they may bear.
Zulaikha Mohammad added:
Calling for reparative therapy is not exactly good intentions, let alone genuine respect that LGBT people should live their lives the way they want it to be.