“Some of these spies could be waitresses or even janitors at hotels acting as … undercover agents for our religious department.” Maxwell Smart joins the religious police (minus Agent 99). Sharia Alert from AP:
Religious police in a Malaysian state plan to deploy spies working as waiters or janitors in hotels to stop activities the authorities consider immoral, including sex between unmarried people, a news report said Tuesday.
The spies, known in the Malay language as “mat skoding,” would tip off the Islamic police department about alleged immoral activities in the northeastern state of Terengganu, The Star newspaper reported.
Terengganu and neighboring Kelantan are two of Malaysia’s most conservative states.
“Some of these spies could be waitresses or even janitors at hotels acting as … undercover agents for our religious department,” Rosol Wahid, the chairman of a state Islamic welfare committee, was quoted as saying.
Rosol said the spies would largely look for unmarried couples committing “khalwat,” or “close proximity,” a crime under Islamic law in Malaysia akin to adultery. It applies to unchaperoned meetings between men and women.
Those found guilty of khalwat can be jailed for up to two months under Islamic laws, which do not apply to non-Muslims.
The spies would be given rewards for each tip they provide, Rosol told The Star. Rosol could not be immediately reached because of a public holiday.
Rosol said the spies were needed because “accurate details are required for the enforcement officers to act, otherwise they would be pouncing on married couples,” The Star reported.
He said the spies would keep watch in parks and secluded areas to nab dating couples intending to engage in sex.
The Terengganu state official’s comments do not necessarily reflect common sentiment in Malaysia, a predominantly Muslim nation of 26 million people.
Earlier this month, the top Islamic leader of another state, Perlis, urged Islamic authorities to stop rewarding public tip-offs on Muslim couples who behave immorally, saying it was against Islamic teachings because it encouraged invasion of privacy.
Still, khalwat convictions are common in the country. In one of the most famous cases, a 21-year-old Malaysian Muslim woman was fined 1,200 ringgit (US$333; 278) last year after she was caught by the moral police in an Argentine soccer player’s bedroom.
In October, Islamic officials stormed the home of a retired American couple living on a Malaysian island resort on suspicion of khalwat. The incident embarrassed Malaysia, which is seeking to woo tourists and persuade expatriates to set up second homes in the country.
It is not clear why the couple, who are not Muslims, were targeted.