Nik Aziz admits ‘oversight’ in gender policy on hair-cutting

Warm greeting: Nik Aziz shaking hands with PAS Supporters Assembly Council member Lau Chin Chua at his official residence in Kota Baru. 

(The Star) – After several days of public outcry over the Kota Baru Municipal Council’s gender policy on hair-cutting, the Kelantan Government appears to have softened its stand on the issue.

However, it has yet to decide whether to revoke the municipal by-law that prohibits women and men hairstylists from attending to customers who are of the opposite gender, regardless of whether they are Muslims or non-Muslims.

“I will bring it up at the state exco meeting to be confirmed before making any official stand on the issue,” Mentri Besar Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat said yesterday.

“First and foremost, we must up-hold the Syariah-based laws. Insya Allah(God willing),” he said, responding to questions on whether he would consider the appeals by hair salons to either scrap or review such by-laws.

“It is possible because they (those who object) are non-Muslims.

“Islam allows them to practise their culture, as long as it is not in violation of the (Islamic) religion.”

Nik Aziz, who is PAS spiritual adviser, was speaking to reporters ahead of a meeting with five officials from the PAS Supporters Congress to discuss the controversy at the Mentri Besar’s official residence here.

Also present was state PAS Dewan Ulama chief Datuk Mohamad Daud, also known as Mat Iraqi.

“We have to hold on to Islamic principles because Islam makes it simple for humans, not the other way around.

“That is why I invited Mat Iraqi to the meeting for a discussion with the congress,” said Nik Aziz, admitting that there was an “oversight” by the authorities in not considering the consequences of Syariah-based by-laws on non-Muslims.

“Maybe it is because no other government (in Malaysia) has yet to implement this system,” he said.

Salon operators had reportedly been slapped with compound fines ranging from RM250 to RM300 since the Kota Baru Municipal Council enforced its hair by-law.

Congress adviser Jeff Lee Weng Chun said they wanted Nik Aziz to exclude non-Muslims from the by-law.

“We, on behalf of the non-Muslims, want to appeal to Tok Guru (Nik Aziz) to review the laws as hair salons now are not like what they were 20 years ago,” he said.

In KUALA LUMPUR, PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang said the Kelantan Government did not intend to implement any Islamic “moral” laws on non-Muslims.

This was proven with the introduction of the Syariah Criminal Code (11) Enactment, which did not apply to non-Muslims, he said.

“PAS views seriously the fears of non-Muslims over the unisex hair salon issue in Kelantan,” he said in a statement read out by PAS vice-president Salahuddin Ayub.

“The party central committee has been informed by the Kelantan Government that it is ready to consider suggestions from non-Muslim groups on the best ways of solving this problem based on the concept of freedom of religion for non-Muslims,” Abdul Hadi said.

He said the Kelantan Government had to carry out its responsibility based on the mandate given by the people to ensure the moral purity of Muslims was preserved.

“PAS is committed to solving any problems through discussions,” he said.