Attitudes towards dogs in Malaysia are slowly changing thanks to Syed Azmi Alhabshi, a Muslim who told the news service Aljazeera he wanted to help people overcome their fear of dogs and promote compassion toward animals.
The I Want to Touch a Dog event was held last Sunday in a park just outside the capital city Kuala Lumpur. It encouraged people to pet dogs. Dogs are considered by many to be “unclean” in Islam.
The overall results were positive. Several people who participated wrote positive messages on their Facebook pages. One Facebook user wrote, “This is so heartwarming to see a good change in my home country.”
Nooh Gadut, a local Muslim leader, opposed the event, and told local media that this event insults clerics. “Don’t try to create a culture that is opposite to Islam.”
Most, however, were pleased that attitudes towards dogs are starting to change. Malaysia is made up mostly of people who practice a moderate brand of Islam.
I Want to Touch a Dog event was organized through Facebook, and about 800 people — from dog owners to those curious about dogs — attended the event. People were asked to wear various colors for their intentions: yellow was for those who wanted to pet a dog, orange was for those who wanted to observe, and red was for dog owners.