Doggy just went out of style

My attention was snared by a story that Malaysia’s predominantly Islamic population had been rocked by a shocking event held in a park on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur. What depraved act had been committed in public now? Reluctantly, I read on.

The event was called, “I Want to Touch a Dog.” That’s wrong on so many levels. Who wants to be out shopping with the family and come across a bunch of degenerate savages down on their hands and knees doing unspeakable things to dogs? Not me, that’s for sure. And certainly not Nurul Islam Mohamed Yusof, a leader in the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party’s youth wing.

In a statement, he said: “Previously there was the organisation of ‘Topless Friday’, followed by ‘Oktoberfest’, then ‘I Want to Touch a Dog.’ We worry that there will next be a ‘Sex & Condom’ campaign with the rationale of ‘safe sex’ to ostensibly prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.”

But I was wrong. This wasn’t an invitation for bestialists to inappropriately touch our furry friends. Far from it. Instead, it was an invitation ­– mainly for children – to familiarise themselves with dogs in a fear-free environment.

Dogs, apparently, are haram (forbidden) in Islam as they are thought to be dirty. Their mouths and noses are considered particularly impure and there is a special cleansing ritual one can follow should one inadvertently touch these appalling appendages. Sometimes, when my dogs are in the back of my car, I’ll turn around while reversing and the yellow one will lick me in my mouth. She doesn’t go unpunished, of course. Later, while she is asleep, I sneak up and sneeze in her face. She thinks it’s a game, but it isn’t. It’s my cleansing ritual and I take it very seriously.

Commenting on the dog-touching event, an official from the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia referred to a fatwa which was issued after an incident where a Muslim had posted a video of the family bathing their dogs.

Bathing! Off with their heads!

Syed Azmi Alhabshi, the man who organised “I Want to Touch a Dog”, went into hiding after a tsunami of death threats. I have received the odd death threat over the years, but I haven’t taken them as seriously as I might have done had I lived in, say, a country where you can have your legs chopped off if you accidentally trip and your willy falls into another man’s bottom.

In this case, the anti-doggists want him stoned. It seems a bit severe for encouraging people to pat their dogs.

Over a thousand people went to the event, which shows that quite a lot of Muslims are interested in getting to know dogs a little better. And why not? I mean, it’s not as if dogs are banned in Malaysia. Sure, most people own them for hunting or security purposes. But would it kill them to show their dogs a little physical affection? Apparently it might.

Siti Sakinah, an NGO worker, attended the event with her children so they could “overcome their fear and learn that dogs are also creatures created by Allah that need love and care”. Jesus, lady. Why not just go to Mecca and sell ham sandwiches?

Seven-year-old Nur Aliyah Mohammed Nasir said she was very happy. “I touched many dogs and carried some of them.” The Huskies were her favourite. They’re also a big favourite in Vietnam and Korea, mainly as carpaccio.

Some critics accused the organiser of being part of a Zionist plot.

The red dog just wandered into my study. I looked him sternly in the eye. “You’re haram,” I said. He wagged his tail and licked my leg. I bent down and gave him a hug. At this rate, Palestine will be overrun in no time at all.

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