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KL mufti holds dialogue with transgenders

PETALING JAYA: The most senior Islamic cleric in Kuala Lumpur has held a dialogue with Malaysia's transgender community, broadcasting the one-hour talk live on his official Facebook page.

Federal Territories mufti Zulkifli Mohamad al-Bakri took part in the "Masih Ada Yang Sayang" (We Still Care) discussion on Tuesday organised by community organisation Pertubuhan Kebajikan dan Kesihatan Umum Malaysia (PKKUM) with help from social activist Syed Azmi Alhabshi.

During the dialogue, Datuk Zulkifli said he was there not to condemn, judge or punish the community but rather to find common ground.

"We are not here to find faults and we are not here to say who wins or who loses. It is our aim to talk about the good deeds that you have done in your life and how to improve yourself as a person," Dr Zulkifli said.

"Everyone has their own strengths. They should not give up even when they hit rock bottom," Dr Zulkifli said, citing the success story of J.K Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books. "When her husband left her with a child, she continued pursuing her dreams," he said.

He encouraged the community to continue contributing to the society, advising them to seek better jobs rather than resorting to sex work or jobs that go against the religion.

A member of the audience shared that many became sex workers not by choice but because of their circumstances.

Despite some disagreement during the dialogue, Mr Syed Azmi said he was happy that it had served its purpose, which was to create understanding.

"The mufti was calm and receptive to differing views throughout the dialogue. I have so much respect for him as he was willing to listen and learn about the community," he told The Star. "The mufti also invited them to his office in Putrajaya to have more dialogues. This is good progress," he added.

PKKUM said the dialogue showed that the mufti empathised with the struggles faced by minority communities in Malaysia, such as those living with HIV and AIDS and transgender people. - THE STAR/ANN

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