KUALA LUMPUR - Pictures of a Malaysian student engaging in a gay wedding has sparked a storm of controversy in the Muslim-majority country.
"The marriage is a disgrace to our religion, race and country," Norizan Ali, chairman of Kepong Islamic Youth Organization (PBIK), told Malaysia Chronicle on Tuesday, December 20.
Ariff Alfian Rosli (28) went to study medicine at University College Dublin in 2003 under a Petronas sponsorship program.
He stopped all contact with his family in Muslim-majority Malaysia three years ago.
Hearing no news about his son, father Rosli Haron lodged missing person reports with the police, the Irish and Malaysian embassies in both countries.
In recent days, pictures emerged on the internet which appeared to be of Ariff in traditional Malaysian dress with his partner in Ireland at an event at Dublin City Hall.
The pictures were published on the front pages of some local newspapers and have been the source of criticism from numerous political groups in Malaysia, where same-sex sexual relationships are illegal and punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
The controversy has prompted the Malaysian prime minister’s office to issue a statement pledging to investigate the matter.
Moreover, an official from Malaysia’s ruling political party is due to arrive in Dublin later this week to convince Rosli to return home.
The Malaysian police have been urged by Muslim groups to investigate the issue on the basis that Rosli has failed to adhere to the country’s Islamic laws.
To avoid similar incidents, Norizan said the PBIK group made a report at Sentul police headquarters asking it to probe future candidates for such scholarships.
"We made the report to pressure the Higher Education Ministry and government-linked companies to check on those whom they sponsor as scholars," he said.
"They may choose students who have excellent academic results but do not check the person's character and religious faith," Norizan said.
The controversy also dominated the virtual world on the micro-blogging site Twitter with many tweets condemning the Malaysian student for straying from Islam and dishonoring his family.
“Ariff Alfian Rosli is a disgrace! Rot in hell!” user @DTOTHEZAK wrote on the popular micro-blogging site, The Malaysian Insider reported.
Another user, @shkyla, wrote: “Looking at those wedding pictures of Ariff Alfian, makes me want to vomit. Blergh, disgusting.”
Another Facebook group,“The Campaign to Bring Ariff Alfian Rosli Home to Malaysia to Save His Faith”, swiftly appeared urging the medicine student be brought home to be “saved”.
Describing its goals, the campaign reads, “As Malaysians, Malays and Muslims, other than condemning and cursing, we also have the alternative to support Ariff Alfian’s return to Malaysia so his faith can be restored to the true and noble path.”
Same-sex relationship and marriage are totally prohibited in Islam as well as in all divine religions.
Islam teaches that believers should neither do the obscene acts, nor in any way indulge in their propagation.
The Catholic Church teaches that homosexuality is not a sin, but considers homosexual intercourse as sinful.
Muslim Malays form about 60 percent of Malaysia's 26-million population, while Christians make up around 9.1 percent.