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

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.


Italy’s Salvini drops Nutella due to Turkish ingredients

Updated 06 December 2019

Italy’s Salvini drops Nutella due to Turkish ingredients

  • Matteo Salvini: I found out that Nutella uses Turkish nuts and I prefer to help companies that use Italian products
  • Ferrero is one of the world’s bigger buyers of hazelnuts, but Italian production is not enough to sustain Nutella’s manufacturing

ROME: Italy’s right-wing opposition leader, Matteo Salvini, says he is no longer a fan of Nutella after discovering that the chocolate-and-hazelnut spread contains Turkish, rather than Italian, nuts.
Salvini, who heads the nationalist League, has previously posted selfies on social media while enjoying slices of bread covered in Nutella, which is made by Italian company Ferrero.
But at a rally Thursday evening in the northern city of Ravenna, Salvini said he had changed his mind about the product.
“I found out that Nutella uses Turkish nuts and I prefer to help companies that use Italian products. I prefer to eat Italian and help Italian farmers,” he said after a woman in the crowd suggested he eat a Nutella sandwhich to stay warm.
Ferrero had no comment. The Alba, Italy-based company is one of the world’s bigger buyers of hazelnuts, but Italian production is not enough to sustain Nutella’s manufacturing.
Salvini’s League is known for its “Italians first” motto and its defense of Made in Italy products.