Rights group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) today hit out at the government for its treatment of Nur Sajat, accusing successive administrations of persecuting the cosmetics entrepreneur for her identity as a transperson.
In a statement, LFL coordinator Zaid Malek said Nur Sajat had been continuously “hunted down”, with over 100 enforcement officers from the Selangor Islamic Religious Department or Jais at one point tasked with obtaining her arrest.
“The religious authorities in Malaysia and the government are entirely responsible for making her feel unsafe in the country,” he said following reports that Nur Sajat had fled to Australia.
“They continuously hunted her down, even tasking 122 Jais enforcement officers at one point with her arrest as if she was the most wanted criminal, and ignoring the protection she was entitled to under the Federal Constitution.
“Is the endless hounding of Nur Sajat by a massive state apparatus our version of moderation? One can feel her terrible despair; there was no one she could turn to, whether the Perikatan Nasional government or the previous Pakatan Harapan government, all persecuted this one helpless transperson.”
Nur Sajat, who was accused of insulting Islam by cross-dressing, had been summoned to appear at a shariah court to face a charge of blasphemy.
The court issued an arrest warrant for her earlier this year after she failed to turn up for the proceedings.
She reportedly fled to Thailand before gaining asylum in a third country believed to be Australia.
Zaid said Nur Sajat’s so-called offence was “simply presenting as herself” during a charity event in 2018 organised to help the Muslim community.
“The irony here is palpable; that the religious authorities targeted her dressing and pursued her relentlessly, all the while ignoring the fact that she was at the material time trying her best to do good for the religion.
“The lack of mercy or humanity shown to Nur Sajat is an embarrassment to the religion and counter to the oft-spun narrative that we practise religious moderation in Malaysia,” he added.