Johor ruler Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar has ordered the Muslim-only laundrette in Muar to stop its controversial policy or risk being shut down.
“I cannot accept this nonsense. This is Johor, which belongs to Bangsa Johor and it belongs to all races and faiths. This is a progressive, modern and moderate state.
“This is not a Taliban state and as the head of Islam in Johor, I find this action to be totally unacceptable as this is extremist in nature,” the visibly upset Johor ruler said, as quoted by The Star.
He has since ordered the state Islamic religious affairs committee chairperson Abdul Mutalip Abd Rahim, the religious council and the district council to investigate the matter.
The ruler also confirmed that he had spoken to the state’s mufti, Mohd Tahrir Samsudin, as well as state executive councillor for religion Abd Mutalip Abd Rahim over the matter.
“I want the owner to apologise to me and the people of Johor. He has made Johoreans very angry and embarrassed because this is not the Johor we want.
“The owner has gone against the vision of a united, harmonious, moderate and tolerant Johor. If he still insists on carrying on the Muslim-only practice, he can leave Johor.
“I suggest he set up shop in Afghanistan. His thinking is sick and goes against everything that Johor stands for.”
Confirming that he and his family members were “deeply appalled” by the action of the laundrette owner, the Johor ruler said it would lead to more narrow-minded actions in the name of Islam if such actions were not stopped.
On the owner who, in the wake of the controversy, has since put up a new sign to say it was “Muslim-friendly”, the sultan said: “Don’t try to be clever. It’s still the same. The owner needs to have his brains cleaned up.
“I want to put a stop to such extremism. Extremism has no place in my state. We take pride in being Bangsa Johor and I want to know where the owner of this launderette learn his Islam?
“Islam teaches the faithful to be tolerant and respect other people and faiths,” he said at Istana Bukit Serene yesterday.
Pointing out how mosques in Johor were open to non-Muslims as long as they were properly dressed, the sultan said he could not imagine non-Muslims being banned from entering mosques, saying he was concerned over rising religious extremism.
“I wonder where this launderette owner washes his clothes when he is overseas? Is he saying only the clothes of Muslims are clean and those of non-Muslims are unclean? That’s what he means, I believe.
“From now on, I am directing the state executive council and all the councils to insist that any business owners who carry out such blatant discriminatory practices should have their licences revoked. Don’t mess around with your narrow-minded religious prejudices.”
He said he could not keep quiet on the issue, as if this was allowed to go unnoticed, “then next we will have taxis for only Muslims or non-Muslims”.
He added that he also did not want other races to carry out similar actions.
Pictures of the Muar laundrette went viral last week, when it was reported that a sign on the premises reminded customers that only Muslims were allowed to use its laundry machines.
Johor prince Tunku Idris Sultan Ibrahim had expressed shock over the laundrette’s policy while several others, including Perlis mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin and prominent banker Nazir Razak, criticised the move.
The operator of the laundrette, however, denied being a racist and insisted that he only wants to ensure that cleanliness be maintained at all times