“PAS Wants Sisters in Islam Banned.”

Such arrogance!

Such arrogance that a religious political party has taken it upon themselves to try and get Sisters in Islam (SIS)—an NGO that champions the cause of female Muslims in Malaysia—banned. Among the 11 motions that went without debate in the 55th PAS Muktamar, this motion reads:

If proven that it goes against the principles (syariat) of Islam, it should be banned (mengharamkan) and its members to go for religious rehabilitation.

Afraid already, PAS, that you want them to go to rehab and out of your way?

The reason given was that SIS’ views are liberal, which supposedly might cause confusion, and therefore a threat to Muslims’ faith. Seems to be the trending view in Malaysia isn’t it? Ban the confounder, lest the public becomes confused! We can think for ourselves, you know. And there’s no better model for Muslim women thinking and speaking up for themselves than SIS.

Is confusion the real case, PAS? Not because the notion of women sticking up for themselves too challenging and fearsome for your patriarchal ego? Not because SIS is doing a splendid job clearing up Islamic laws that mostly have been selfishly interpreted to fit with the misogynist status quo from days of yonder? Not because SIS saw beyond the pretence, and criticised the fatwa on yoga and tomboy? Not because some of the leaders of SIS do not look like your dream women, with their hijab-less heads and contemporary dresses?

With the rise of the conservative ulama group in the latest election of PAS, I was afraid that there might not be much chance for reason in the party. Frankly, I’m relieved to read the report by The Nut Graph that included the views of several PAS women leaders, which had more sense than their male counterparts.

Former central working committee member Dr. Siti Mariah Mahmud, claimed that it’s best to hold talks with SIS rather than the ban, and she was quoted as saying:

People think they (SIS) are wrong, but I think their thoughts are rarely heard in Malaysia, and people tend to misunderstand them.

…So if they invite me to their functions, I will go, because I don’t have any problems with them.

Dr Lo’ Lo’ Mohamad Ghazali meanwhile said:

I have a more open attitude: SIS is a registered NGO, so if you don’t agree with them, you can just state your views.

I don’t agree with banning them because I believe everybody needs to be able to speak their minds.

Oh, I think I should mention that Dr Lo’ Lo’ was the only woman to win a seat in the central committee in PAS.

Earlier on, she berated delegates who raised the issue of dress code and the wearing of headscarves (and segregation, which she didn’t mention) of women reporters in the event, something which provoked the MCA’s women wing to call it the “Talibanism by PAS”.

In her winding up speech, she urged the party:

It’s time that the women wing go beyond the “tea lady” era and not just serving as the souvenir & gifts committee.

Amen, sister. Amen.