Malaysia probes talk on Muslim women giving up headscarves

Kuala Lumpur: Islamic officials in Malaysia have launched an investigation into a public event that discussed women who stop wearing the hijab, according to a group of female activists who spoke at the forum. The probe into Saturday’s “Malay Women and De-hijabbing” talk is the latest sign of growing Muslim conservatism in the multi-ethnic nation, which critics say is chipping away at a traditionally tolerant brand of Islam.

The forum took place at a book shop outside Kuala Lumpur to mark the launch of a book called Unveiling Choice, about author Maryam Lee’s decision to stop wearing the headscarf. At the 3-hour event, Lee and two other Muslim wo­m­en shared their experiences about giving up the hijab.

Following a social media backlash, the religious affairs minister called for a probe, and officers from the Islamic affairs dept visited the shop to get copies of the book and talked to a staff member, the women said. “We condemn this unnecessary probe as abuse of power to harass and intimidate wo­men activists,” said the trio.

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