A Malaysian transgender entrepreneur went into hiding after she received death threats for renouncing Islam. A video of Nur Sajat renouncing Islam went viral on social media angering Muslims, who issued death threats to her.
In the video, 35-year-old Sajat said she did not "want to be a Muslim anymore" and transphobic people in the religion made her "want to quit" Islam.
"I will leave Islam, it would be better like this. [People who are anti-trans] made me want to quit the religion. Because we didn't do anything wrong, but people harshly blame us for being bad," she said in the video posted on Facebook, according to the South China Morning Post (SCMP).
The video triggered outrage in the Muslim community. "I want to stone him now," one user reportedly commented on the video while referring to Sajat as a male. Another user wrote: "his blood is halal [permitted]."
Concern Over Hate Crimes
Justice for Sisters (JFS), a Malaysian non-profit for LGBT, said the transgender community was concerned over possible violence and hate crimes against them.
"Their [public] extreme actions are legitimised by patriarchal interpretations of religion and laws that criminalise persons based on their gender identity, religious beliefs or lack thereof, freedom of expression and such," JFS founder Thilaga Sulathireh told Free Malaysia Today. "The fact that people can call for violence and issue death threats openly demonstrates a high level of impunity in this country, especially against trans and gender diverse women. These forms of extremism based on religion and patriarchal ideas are worrying."
Numan Afifi, communications officer of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association Asia, said the negative media coverage and inciteful speeches by political and religious figures against the LGBT community led to the hatred against Sajat.
"It didn't happen in isolation," Numan said, according to the SCMP. "All of us are at risk, not just Sajat."
'Who Are We to Judge Her?'
Mujahid Yusof Rawa, former minister for Islamic affairs, urged people not to "overreact."
"Do not overreact, who are we to judge her? Instead of punishing her, we should continue to persuade her nicely not to convert to another religion. That is the proper reaction," Mujahid told Free Malaysia Today.
He, however, said that Sajat should not have problems with religious institutions to renounce Islam.
"The weaknesses and imperfections are coming from the institutions, not from Islam. So, Nur Sajat should not have used them as an excuse to convert. That is not fair," he reportedly said.