Malaysia probes book on Muslim women who refuse to wear headscarves

Muslim women who do not wear the headscarf are a common sight in Malaysia. (AFP)
Updated 17 April 2019
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Malaysia probes book on Muslim women who refuse to wear headscarves

  • A government minister called for a probe into the launch of the book ‘Unveiling Choice’ last weekend
  • The book features Muslim women who discussed why they had stopped wearing a headscarf

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s religious authorities on Wednesday said they were investigating a book about Muslim women who choose not to wear a hijab, prompting a backlash among women’s rights groups.
The probe is the latest in a series of incidents that have led to women’s rights activists accusing authorities of acting like “fashion police” by trying to control women’s attire in the Muslim-majority nation.
It came after a government minister called for a probe into the launch of the book “Unveiling Choice” last weekend, which featured Muslim women who discussed why they had stopped wearing a headscarf.
“It’s just a sharing of experience, nothing more than that,” said Maryam Lee, author of the book, which she hopes will show that the hijab can be “both liberating and oppressive.”
“(Some) say this is something to promote “de-hijabbing” — that’s not true. It’s a book about experience,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, referring to the removing of the headscarf.
Lee said officers from the Islamic affairs department in the central state of Selangor had obtained copies of the book from the publisher’s office on Tuesday.
A spokeswoman from the department when contacted said it was “looking into the matter” but declined to give further details. Its director Haris Kasim did not respond to requests for comment.
Religious Affairs Minister Mujahid Yusof Rawa said in a statement that he viewed the matter seriously and called for a “fair” investigation.
It was unclear what offenses or laws the book was being investigated over.
Muslim women who do not wear the headscarf are a common sight in Malaysia, and include notable figures like the wife and daughter of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
Other prominent personalities such as former trade minister Rafidah Aziz and ex-central bank governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz also do not wear the hijab.
More than 60 percent of Malaysia’s 32 million population are Muslims, but it is also home to a large number of ethnic and religious minorities who openly practice their religion.
“It’s really disappointing,” said Sumitra Visvanathan, executive director of the non-profit Women’s Aid Organization.
“I would tell the government to butt out of our private lives and how we choose to dress is our business. There is no law in Malaysia that stipulates a woman should or should not wear the headscarf.”
Last year, Mujahid said that the government was planning to introduce a dress code for Muslim women in the workplace, sparking a large public outcry.


Outlandish ‘Cats’ film trailer gives the Internet paws

Updated 20 July 2019
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Outlandish ‘Cats’ film trailer gives the Internet paws

  • Many on Twitter voiced uneasiness over the peculiar sexiness of the humanized cats
  • Cats for a time held the record for the longest-running musical on both Broadway and the West End

NEW YORK: A tribe of cats with names like Rum Tum Tugger, who sing, dance and hold an annual ball to choose who will ascend to feline heaven for reincarnation?
Yes, that’s the plot of “Cats” — and somehow the new trailer for the upcoming live action film adaptation of the famed musical looks even trippier than it sounds.
This week’s release of the teaser for the film — which stars Taylor Swift, Idris Elba, Ian McKellen, James Corden, Jason Derulo, Judi Dench and the Royal Ballet’s Francesca Hayward — had the Internet losing its mind, leaving some viewers mystified, others haunted over the unnerving mashup of the actors’ real faces and feline bodies, all cloaked with “digital fur technology.”
As Jennifer Hudson, who plays Grizabella, belts out the musical’s classic song “Memory,” the band of kitties who call themselves the Jellicles twirl through a remarkably large home decked out in opulent shades of burgundy and olive, with bizarrely enormous chandeliers and furniture on which the cats romp.
Many on Twitter voiced uneasiness over the peculiar sexiness of the humanized cats, particularly the breast-like furry mounds on some of their chests, with some wearing jewels and extra fur coats.

“My brain has melted. My eyes are bleeding. There is no god,” said one Twitter user, @KristyPuchko.
“the CATS trailer is proof of a conspiracy theory i’ve long believed — that rich people have different, much better drugs,” tweeted another, @BrandyLJensen.
Swift plays Bombalurina — the flirty cat, who is sometimes, well, catty — while Dench plays Old Deuteronomy, the boss cat who chooses which feline gets a ticket to the “Heavenside Layer” to be reborn.
The sung-through musical “Cats” — composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber and based on T.S. Eliot’s poetry collection “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” — premiered at London’s West End in 1981, becoming a decorated global phenomenon and grossing $2 billion worldwide by 1994.
For a time, it held the record for the longest-running musical on both Broadway and the West End, and has been translated into 15 languages.
The Universal Pictures feature film directed by Tom Hooper, who did 2012’s “Les Miserables,” is set to premiere December 20, 2019.
But some say their lives already are forever changed only after seeing the fantasy musical’s trailer.
Others acted unmoved.
“I don’t know why you’re all freaking out over miniature yet huge cats with human celebrity faces and sexy breasts performing a demented dream ballet for kids,” tweeted @louisvirtel.