KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) – A Malaysian mosque has banned tourists after a video of two female visitors in skimpy outfits dancing in front of the Muslim holy site went viral online.
The pair, of East Asian appearance and believed to be foreigners, were filmed doing the dance in skimpy shorts and tops exposing their midriffs on a wall outside the main mosque in the city of Kota Kinabalu, a popular site for visitors and tour groups.
Residents and local Muslim groups were incensed by the risque moves outside the holy site on Borneo island, which is renowned for its huge blue and gold dome and ornate minarets.
An outraged onlooker can be heard in the video saying: “Why don’t they just fall off the wall?”
Mosque chairman Jamal Sakaran at the weekend slammed “the unacceptable behaviour by foreign tourists” and announced a temporary halt to any tourists visiting the mosque in Sabah state, adding the move was to preserve the sanctity of Islam.
The nationality of the women involved was not clear.
State Tourism Minister Christina Liew told The Star newspaper legal action would not be taken against the pair as they were likely unaware of the severity of their actions. But authorities wanted to track them down to explain “that something they deemed as ‘fun’ was actually disrespectful and not right in Sabah”.
Large numbers of tourists – both local and foreign – visit the mosque, often during a brief stop in Kota Kinabalu before heading into the jungles of Sabah to see the jungle-clad state’s abundance of wildlife.
Tourists can usually visit mosques in Muslim-majority Malaysia, where most practise a moderate form of Islam, but are advised to wear modest clothing.
It is not the first time that foreign visitors have landed in hot water for disrespecting local culture in Sabah.
In 2015 four Western tourists pleaded guilty to obscenity charges for taking nude photos on popular peak Mount Kinabalu, an act some in the country blamed for causing a deadly earthquake.