A conservative Muslim state in Malaysia is to recruit a volunteer spy squad to catch couples engaged in allegedly "immoral activities" such as premarital sex, a news report said yesterday.
The snoops, located in hotels and parks, will be trained by northern Terengganu state's religious officials and will tip them off if couples are caught in compromising situations, the Star newspaper reported.
"Some of these `spies' could be waitresses or even janitors at hotels acting as auxiliary undercover agents for our religious department," Rosol Wahid, chairman of the state's Islam Hadhari and Welfare Committee, was reported as saying.
Rosol said the snoops would be rewarded for every tip-off.
He said the state was recruiting the spies to curb the rising number of couples committing khalwat (close proximity) -- a sin in Islam.
Khalwat also applies to men and women caught together in private or showing affection in public, such as holding hands.
However, the initiative would not apply to non-Muslims.
Rosol said the spies will mainly look for unmarried couples behaving "suspiciously" or for vice activities throughout the state as "accurate details are required for the enforcement officers to act."
The spies would also scour parks and secluded areas to nab couples intending to have sex, the Star reported.
Malaysia's Terengganu state neighbors Kelantan state, which is ruled by the hardline Pan-Islamic party.
Early last year the government had ordered the Federal Territory Religious Department to disband its snoop team as it was akin to an invasion of privacy, an instruction that was meant for other states as well, the Star reported earlier.
Another group of volunteer spies was also ordered to disband in Malacca state.
Religious authorities in Malaysia regularly raid homes and hotel rooms to arrest couples engaged in activities against Islamic law.
In a recent case, officials raided the apartment of a retired American couple living on Malaysia's northern resort island of Langkawi on suspicion of khalwat, although it was not clear why the home of a non-Muslim was targeted.
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