RELIGIOUS authorities in the Malaysian state of Selangor has launched a mobile application that allows members of the public to report Syariah-related crimes, adding to concerns of growing Islamic fundamentalism in the Muslim-majority country.
Selangor’s Islamic Religious Department (Jais) director Haris Kasim told The Star that the app allows the public to become the eyes and ears of enforcers, making it easier for them to report offences that breach the Syariah code, such as pre-marital or extramarital sex, or alcohol consumption, which are forbidden to Muslims.
“The application, which was launched Tuesday, is simple and easy to use. Once installed on a smartphone, people can send over information and make reports to Jais very easily,” he was quoted as saying.
Named Hotline JAIS, the app has been made available for Android devices and users can download it at the Google Play store.
I like how it's only on Android because Apple is run by a gay man and JAIS can't allow that pic.twitter.com/2CZbtNu7Pm
— Haikal Idris (@haikalclassic) October 5, 2016
He said the app would serve as a deterrent to wrongdoers, making it harder for them to get away with violating the Syariah code.
Complainants, however, would have to provide substantial information before the department can act on their reports.
“They will need to fill up a form which requires certain details. If the form is incomplete, we cannot go ahead with the inquiry,” he said, adding the complainants needed to include evidence of the alleged wrongdoing in their reports.
It's good that with the app now JAIS is sending a message that it's not their job to spy on people & tangkap khalwat.
— QJ (@Qayzr) October 5, 2016
“Take for example they want to report on deviant teaching – they need to give us the location, the actual time and when it happened.”
He said the department would also accept photographic proof.
Although the app can be used to lodge complaints, Haris said there are also other functions, such as allowing users to access information on Islam and the Syariah law.
“Even if you have Syariah-related questions which we cannot answer or act on, the app provides a list of bodies and organisations one can approach to get the answer,”
“We just want to be more approachable. We are doing our best to reduce and eventually eradicate activities that are wrong, and by the launch of this app, we hope people who intend to do wrong will think twice.
“Once a complaint is submitted via the app, we can immediately deploy a team to the location,” he said told The Star.
Who the hell approved this ridiculous JAIS-snitching app? The amount of abuse one can make using the app is brainless.
— Ze (@ZeSpoooky) October 5, 2016
The enforcement of the strict-Islamic Syariah code is a contentious issue in Malaysia. Conservatives here say they favour punishments prescribed in the code for Muslims engaged in deviant teachings, premarital or extramarital sex, and alcohol consumption, among other offences. However, human rights and civil society groups have argued that the moral policing does more harm than good in the multiracial country.