Religious Police Call Time On Malaysian Punks And Skins

BruneiDirect.com is reporting that the Islamic department in the capital of the Malaysian state of Kelantan has launched a campaign to rid the area of punk and skinhead culture after deciding they are un-Islamic.

Teenagers who sport Mohican haircuts may find themselves confronted with a pair of clippers and verses from the Koran.

During a recent gathering as part of Malaysia's Independence Day celebrations, a 17-year old youth was detained for looking "excessively punky."

He was reportedly wearing torn clothes and had his head died red and cropped into a Mohican: known in Malaysia as a "Trojan" haircut. He was given a lecture by officials who offered him Koranic verses and told him to abandon his unhealthy lifestyle before shaving his head.

A spokesman for the state's chief minister says that the party is not against all Western styles but that authorities are concerned to prevent any possible gang rivalries from developing.

There have been a number of cases in Malaysia recently where government ministers have criticized council officials for the manner in which they have enforced morality by laws.

Officers in Kuala Lumpur and the northern city of Ipoh were told that they had overstepped the mark after trying to fine couples for holding hands in public.

Two years ago, fans of "black metal" found themselves out of favor with the authorities when the religious affairs committee in the northern state of Kedah proposed to medicate rockers they accused of practicing Satanism, carrying out animal sacrifices and defiling the Koran with drugs used to treat addicts.

Both Kedah and Kelantan are conservative rural areas where Malay Muslims are in a large majority.

Local attitudes towards Western fashion may have as much to do with a certain small-town mentality as religious sensibilities.

In large cities like Kuala Lumpur young people are far freer to express themselves.

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