Perlis mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin has chided lawyer Siti Kasim for her criticism of the present government on LGBT issues and invited her to an “open dialogue” on the matter.
This came after Siti had requested her portrait be removed from the Penang photography exhibition in solidarity with two LGBT activists whose portraits were taken down upon instructions of the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mujahid Yusof Rawa.
In a Facebook post, the lawyer-cum-activist branded the move as an act of discrimination and questioned if “closeted Islamofascists” had been elected to the present government.
Today, Mohd Asri criticised her for her comments and accused her of using “immature” language.
“Today, she bising (made noise) again about LGBT, as if her vote and that of LGBT people were the only votes that caused the present government to come to power.
“This sort of language and manner is very immature. Especially when measured from the perspective of Eastern and Nusantara values where it is important to be polite and courteous. It is very awkward.
“I worry that such a character (like Siti) is seen by our children,“ he wrote in his own Facebook posting today.
In the spirit of the New Malaysia, Mohd Asri said he was inviting Siti to participate in a “matured” public dialogue on LGBT issues.
“If we have no organisers, we in Perlis will invite her to a dialogue in an open and fair manner,” he wrote.
He added that Siti had turned down his previous offer to participate in an open dialogue about Islamic issues in Malaysia.
“A fair dialogue is in line with the spirit of Malaysia Baru. Mature dialogue can be used to enrich the minds of the rakyat,” he said.
On Wednesday, portraits of LGBT activists Nisha Ayub and Pang Khee Teik were removed from “Stripes and Strokes”, a Merdeka-themed exhibition held in conjunction with the annual George Town Festival.
Mujahid, who oversees religious affairs, later said that the move was in line with the federal government’s stance on the LGBT community.
"This is in line with our stand. LGBTs are still unacceptable and cannot be promoted.
"I fear a backlash on them, since the society still rejects their promotion.
"The organiser (of the festival) should be more sensitive to respect and conserve the majority views," Mujahid had said.
Aside from Siti, activist Marina Mahathir, lawyer Ambiga Sreenevasan, writer Bernice Chauly and musician Alena Murang have also requested for their portraits to be removed from the exhibition.