A Malaysian transgender woman facing a blasphemy charge for “cross-dressing” during a religious event has been granted asylum.
Finding haven: Nur Sajat Kamaruzzaman, 36, has found refuge in Australia after fleeing persecution from a local sharia court in Malaysia, the South China Morning Post reported.
- Human Rights Watch confirmed that Nur Sajat’s asylum application with the UN Refugee Agency (UNCHR) had been granted, leaving it to the entrepreneur to reveal which country.
- Nur Sajat later revealed in an online live chat with her followers that she had been under COVID-19 quarantine in Sydney.
- When asked by a commenter why she chose Australia, she replied: “Because they respect human rights.”
As a @UNHCRAsia recognized refugee, under no circumstances should Nur Sajat be sent back to #Malaysia. She needs to be sent to a country that will offer rights protections, not persecuted for being #LGBT which is what will happen if she is sent to Malaysia https://t.co/4tNkRvKbrt
— Phil Robertson (@Reaproy) September 20, 2021
It started with an outfit: Nur Sajat is accused of insulting Islam after wearing a baju kurung, a national dress of Malaysia traditionally worn by women, while attending a religious event at her beauty center in 2018, NextShark previously reported.
- Under Section 10(a) of the Shariah Crimes (State of Selangor) Enactment 1995, insulting Islam and related practices either by mocking or blaspheming through writing, drawings or photos are subject to punishment.
- If convicted, she could serve up to three years in prison, pay 5,000 Malaysian Ringgit (about $1,200) in fines, or be sentenced with both.
- Ordered to appear at a sharia court, Nur Sajat fled the country and has successfully evaded Malaysian authorities since.
- She resurfaced in Thailand last month, where she was arrested but subsequently released after being charged and fined over an immigration offense. Malaysian police threatened to put her through “conversion therapy,” which essentially tortured those in the LGBTQ community into rejecting their sexual orientations and identities, according to the Washington Post.
- When news of Nur Sajat’s asylum application emerged, Malaysian police reportedly lodged extradition requests with both Thailand and Australia.
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Never going back: Nur Sajat has vowed never to return to Malaysia as she has embraced her “new life” in Australia as shown in her new Instagram posts, in which she proclaims she just wants “to be free, to be myself…to have human rights.”
- In since-deleted captions on her recent Instagram posts, she reportedly wrote, “It is very important that the freedoms and human rights of every human being are respected, not just for myself, but for those around the world.”
- The entrepreneur revealed that she sold all her businesses in Malaysia and “could not wait” to begin a new chapter of her life after completing her quarantine period.
- “We have been quiet all this while because we plan to open a new shop in a new location and Alhamdulillah [thank God], we’ve got a lot of support. I am very excited and happy,” she said.
- According to human rights groups, it is not ideal for Nur Sajat to return to Malaysia, where she allegedly faced discrimination, persecution, death threats and other forms of harassment for years.
- “If I’m still Muslim, just let me be with my own ways, and you follow your own ways,” Nur Sajat said, according to Sputnik News. “Don’t judge me. We respect each other. Stop calling me a sinner as well… Thank you, I appreciate all of your advice.”
Observers point out that Nur Sajat’s successful asylum bid should be a reality check for Malaysia, which was recently elected to chair one of the 18 seats on the United Nations Human Rights Council the 2022-2024 period.
Featured Image via nursajatkamaruzzaman