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Friday, 9 June, 2000, 13:02 GMT 14:02 UK
Islamic party rejects women MPs
Party convention
Women were segregated at the party's convention
Malaysia's opposition Islamic party has rejected calls for women to run as candidates in state and parliamentary elections, according to a local news agency.

One of the leaders of the Islamic Party of Malaysia (PAS), Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, said the party was concerned for womens' "security".

Nik Aziz
Nik Aziz wants mothers to stay at home
"We are still lacking in our understanding of democracy, unlike Europe. If security of the women can be guaranteed, only then I will agree," he was quoted as saying by Bernama news agency.

He added that, should women ever run as candidates, their husbands' consent would be required.

They would also have to be over 40 years old, childless and have political experience.

"We want to safeguard their honour so that they will not become playthings," he said.

Women segregated

At the party's convention last weekend, several women members called on the all-male leadership to field women candidates.

Muslim girls
PAS has ordered women to wear head scarves
During the event, women members were segregated and had to sit in a separate area and use their own entrance. They also had to use a separate microphone.

Malaysia's deputy prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the ruling party had never faced problems concerning women candidates.

He accused PAS of using security as an excuse to keep women out of politics. "What has this got to do with our democratic system?"

Mothers at home

Mr Nik Aziz also said the PAS would increase the pay of male civil servants with children, so their wives could stop working and look after the children at home instead, Bernama reported.

Muslims in Malaysia
PAS supporters feel the government is not Islamic enough
Mr Nik Aziz has previously said that less attractive women should be given priority for state jobs as pretty women would have fewer problems finding husbands to support them.

PAS, which has called for an Islamic state, won control of two out of 13 states in last year's general election - one of which is run by Mr Nik Aziz.

The party also tripled its seats in the election, becoming the leading opposition party.

In the states it controls, PAS has severely restricted the sale of alcohol, ordered Muslim women to cover their heads and to queue separately from men in supermarkets.

Last week it placed a ban on karoake and discos.

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See also:

06 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Islamic state bans karaoke
13 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
Malaysian Islamists demand modesty
30 Nov 99 | Asia-Pacific
Mahathir secures fifth term
03 May 00 | Asia-Pacific
Malaysian paper sues government
26 Nov 99 | Asia-Pacific
Eyewitness: Battle for the Islamic vote
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