Ramadan vice squad: Malaysian officials go undercover to catch non-fasting Muslims
If you are a non-fasting Muslim in Malaysia – be warned, a local official in disguise might serve your next meal having already snapped a photo of you and sent it to the local religious affairs department.
Thirty two enforcement officers in the Malaysian district of Segamat are dressing up as cooks and waiters to catch Muslims eating during the holy month of Ramadan, the New Straits Times newspaper reported on Thursday.
The best tea-brewers and noodle chefs were selected from the ranks of the department’s officers to carry out the task, which will be conducted at 185 food premises. Another prerequisite for the job was skin color as many restaurant staff are migrants workers.
“We have specially selected enforcement officers who are dark skinned for the undercover job,” Segamat Municipal Council president Mohamad Masni Wakiman told the paper.
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“They sound convincing when they speak in Indonesian and Pakistani lingo, so that customers will believe they are really hired to cook and serve meals and take menu orders.”
Islam’s holy month of Ramadan runs from May 5 until June 4 this year. During this time observing Muslims are obliged to fast from dawn until dusk unless they have a special health condition.
In certain parts of Malaysia Muslims are subject to Islamic laws. If a Muslim is caught breaking the fast by one of the officers, he or she might face a fine of up to $329 or up to six month detention or both.
The large muslim population of the multi-ethnic Malaysia has traditionally followed a tolerant form of Islam. In recent years the spread of increasingly conservative interpretations have been a source of worry in the country. A human-rights group advocating for Muslim women in Malaysia, Sisters of Islam, has lambasted the restaurant initiative calling it a “disgraceful act of spying”.