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World

AFP
May 23, 2019

Malaysian officials go undercover to spy on fasting Muslims in Ramadan

World

AFP
Thu, May 23, 2019

Malaysian officials are disguising themselves as cooks and waiters to catch Muslims who don´t fast during Ramadan, with a rights group Thursday blasting the "disgraceful act of spying".

Thirty-two enforcement officers from a local council in the Muslim-majority country are going undercover at food outlets as part of the scheme, the New Straits Times newspaper reported.

Muslims are required to fast from dawn until dusk during Islam´s holiest month, unless there are special circumstances such as illness.

While Muslims in multi-ethnic Malaysia have traditionally followed a tolerant form of religion, critics say conservative attitudes have been gaining ground in recent years.

The team in Segamat district, in southern Johor state, will be monitoring 185 outlets, with two of the officers selected as they are good at making popular dishes such as spicy fried noodles.

"We have specially selected enforcement officers who are dark skinned for the undercover job," Mohamad Masni Wakiman, president of the Segamat Municipal Council, was cited as saying by the paper.

"They sound convincing when they speak in Indonesian and Pakistani lingo, so that customers will believe they are really hired to cook and serve meals, and take menu orders."

Many staff at food outlets in Malaysia are migrant workers.

If Muslims are seen ordering food during the daytime, the officers will secretly take pictures of them and contact the local religious affairs department for further action, Masni said.

"We strongly demand that all parties cease this disgraceful act of spying."

Over 60 percent of Malaysia´s 32 million inhabitants are ethnic Malay Muslims and the country is also home to substantial ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities, who do not typically follow Islam.