KUALA LUMPUR - Tindakan seorang wanita beragama Islam mendedahkan dirinya makan secara terbuka di sebuah restoran di Quill City Mall, dikecam hebat netizen yang menganggap tindakannya itu keterlaluan dan tidak hormat orang Islam yang lain, berpuasa.
Status yang dimuat naik oleh Mrym Lee pada jam 2 petang semalam telah dikongsi 3,232 di laman Facebook dan rata-rata yang meninggalkan komen mengecam tindakannya itu.
STATUS 'KONTROVERSI MRYM LEE
"I am so sorry this happens to you," words I am starting to get used to since the past emotionally exhausting 3 weeks.
But today, of all days, these words were uttered to me again for a victimless, crimeless act. Which makes it so much worse because of how unnecessarily you've been punished.
This ramadan, I have made it a conscious effort to physically protest moral and religious policing of muslims in Malaysia, especially muslim women.
This means it is a conscious effort on my part to eat and drink in public during Ramadan, when I am not fasting, while being visibly Muslim (tudung/malay-looking etc).
Another friend also does this, and we both have gotten harassed, verbally abused and publicly persecuted every single time - for merely eating when we were hungry and drinking when we were thirsty, by people who were supposed to be fasting.
"Dik, kau tak puasa ke?" "Ha ah, tak puasa." And just kept on drinking to their continued harassment. Harassments to make you feel guilty in the name of religion, but we know we're not doing anything wrong at all.
Today, at The Chicken Rice Shop in Quill City Mall, I sat and ordered a plate of Penang rojak. Manager was very rude from beginning, but he didn't refuse service and even served my rojak already.
I was eating when I was pestered by same manager whose staff rudely served my plate (dia campak je pinggan ke atas meja).
"Are you malay?"
"Are you muslim?"
"Then why are you eating?"
I stopped eating. "Not again," I thought. If you didn't want to serve me you should have refused service from the beginning, not harass me when I was already eating.
He continued pestering me on how people around me, the other customers and staff, were looking at me weirdly.
"Encik, makan dan minum bukan salah di sisi undang-undang," I said.
"Ye lah tapi awak buat macam ni mencalarkan imej Islam," he pointed.
A friend was there, a non Muslim, and he basically tried to calm the manager down, "encik, dia tak kacau orang pun."
"Saya tak marah kamu, saya marah dia (me)," manager replied to my poor friend who had to witness this.
"Encik, saya tahu saya tak salah. Islam tak ajar kita camni." He left my table, waved his hand, shook his head.
I then went to him, explaining how he's been rude to me as a customer, and he explained that religious authorities could raid the restaurant and punish for serving Muslims during ramadan.
I asked him if he thinks that it's right by Islam to do that, he said yes. Regretfully, I wouldn't be surprised if many malay Muslims think this way.
"Ok, baiklah. Bagi saya habiskan makanan saya. Then I'll leave."
5 minutes later, another customer, a malay muslim man with a wife and a child with him, came to my table and started to harass.
"Apa hak kau nak makan kat tempat umum ni, dik? Kau tak reti hormat orang berpuasa ke?" With a clearly angry tone, increasingly shouting at my face as I ignore the continued harassment.
I called the manager to remove him from harassing me. Though clearly taking the man's side, I was a customer too.
But he wasn't finished. "Abang tahu perempuan ada masalah (referring to menstruation)," this is where I stopped him. I was not going to tolerate punishing women for their biology.
"Tiada apa masalah langsung dengan wanita dan tidak boleh puasa," I said, looked at him straight in the eye.
He became furious. "Tapi kau tak reti hormat ke? Kau merosakkan imej agama Islam!"
The irony was just too real.
Since when has it been your entitled right to become a religious or moral police over other people's ibadah (religious rituals)?
I wanted to ask for the manager, but the manager was the one who started to deny my right to eat in the first place.
At this point, I was only thinking of the Prophet's advice that when we face a difficulty when fasting, that we should say "I am fasting, I am fasting", so as to refrain from anger. I mean I wasn't fasting but I refrained from anger anyway because I thought that's just good advice, ya know.
Anyway, he became very very angry and started to say unrelated things like "melayu lain kat sini pun cari makan jugak (the other malays here are making a living too)," which was very puzzling because the only person being denied a meal was me, not anyone else. Plus, I never denied anyone to make anything, all I wanted was to eat in peace.
I finished my Penang rojak, paid my bills and left the restaurant. Manager made rude faces all the way, his staff literally threw tantrums when they walked pass me.
As I was leaving, a couple of lovely ladies in the same restaurant signaled solidarity, "keep standing up for your rights! Keep standing up for your rights."
Thank you, lovely ladies. Yes we do need to keep standing up for our rights, because if we don't, power hungry authoritarians will gladly take them away from us.
Religious policing of people's personal beliefs and rituals is rife and it is a worrying backwards mentality.
Women and children always get the brunt of religion, because power always targets to oppress the weak but never to question the powerful.
Get your priorities straight. Go punish our corrupt politicians and fix our messed up policies. Leave the practice of faiths to the individual, empower each other in society to do good, only then we'll see productive progress. - Mrym Lee