Siti Kasim has rightly pointed out that the police investigation against her has nothing to do with her middle finger, but with men being outraged over a Malay women’s courage in opposing their version of Islam and their wish to Islamise Malaysia.
Religious men and religious-based parties like PAS are working together with the ruling party to control the population. Anyone who shows dissent is perceived as a threat to their power and domination.
Siti is one of the few brave Malay women who dares to speak out against this control of the population. We live in a male-dominated society in which the woman’s position is to sit quietly beside her husband and shut her mouth.
It is doubtful that a police report would have been made, or there would have been much fuss, if the middle finger had belonged to a male.
The Malay woman is one of the most maligned people in Malaysia. Despite calls for changes in the shariah laws to give more protection to the rights of Muslim women, no improvement has been made.
Malaysia was once perceived as a country with progressive Islamic laws, but we have seen a gradual degradation of these laws over the years. Now Muslim husbands can take on wife number two, three or four without the consent of his first wife.
Many polygamous Malays can barely afford to look after themselves, let alone their many wives and children. Look at the number of women abandoned to tend to their children on their own and the number of children without father figures to look up to.
And what about the rights of underaged Muslim girls? Have the muftis considered their plight? They can be married off when they are barely out of their teens and divorced when their husbands are tired of them.
Last September, Siti, who is a human rights lawyer and defender of the Orang Asli and LGBT communities, attended a forum called “Pindaan Akta 355: Antara Realiti dan Persepsi. (Amendment to Act 355: Between Reality and Perception).
She was initially barred from asking a question, but when she did, she was harassed by heckling and boos.
Siti’s middle finger is not just about the freedom to express a view that opposes the establishment. Is it also about woman against man and common sense against the thinking of the brainwashed. It is about more than rude gestures and decorum. Siti reacted in the only way that the hecklers would understand. She fought fire with fire.
Mariam Mokhtar is an FMT columnist