PETALING JAYA: Lawyers for Liberty today lambasted the religious authorities and the government, saying they were responsible for making transgender cosmetics entrepreneur Nur Sajat Kamaruzzaman (pix) feeling unsafe in the country.

They allegedly continuously hunted her down, even tasking 122 JAIS enforcement officers at one point for her arrest as if she was the most wanted criminal, and ignoring the protection she was entitled to under the Federal Constitution, according to Lawyers for Liberty Coordinator Zaid Malek.

“This bullying show of force is emblematic of the problem we face with regards to religious enforcement in the country; only caring about whether we appear on the surface as Islamic instead of exhibiting the humanity and compassion that Islam espouses,” he said in a statement.

“The lack of mercy or humanity shown to Nur Sajat is an embarrassment to the religion and is counter to the oft-spun narrative that we practice religious moderation in Malaysia. 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.”

Zaid was refering to news reports that cosmetics entrepreneur Nur Sajat has now settled down in Australia, having fled Malaysia as she felt unsafe after being charged in the Syariah Court for “dressing up as a woman”.

Nur Sajat is sought by the authorities after the Shah Alam Syariah High Court issued an arrest warrant against the entrepreneur on Feb 23 for failing to attend proceedings over a charge of dressing as a woman.

She is also required by the police to attend proceedings at Ampang Jaya Court over a fraud case involving MyKad details.

According to Zaid, the alleged offence was simply presenting as herself during a religious charity event in 2018 which she organised for the betterment of 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,” he said.

Zaid said it is time that the religious bodies in our country reflect on their actions. This is not just about the way Islam is enforced or interpreted in Malaysia, but also how Islam would be perceived globally, he pointed out.

“We must stop performative religious acts and focus instead on showcasing the humanity that Islam truly preaches,” he added.