KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 20 — The reported “gay marriage” between a Malaysian and his lover in Ireland has triggered outrage online, with one Facebook group urging he be brought home to be “saved”.
The controversy erupted after pictures taken at Ariff Alfian Rosli’s same-sex civil union surfaced on the internet last week, three years after the University College Dublin medical student was reported missing by his family.
In the photos, the 28-year-old could be seen wearing a black baju Melayu with kain samping while his partner — known only as Jonathan — wore a black tuxedo and green tie.
Local criticism of the same-sex union has been swift and harsh, with mainly Muslim users attacking Ariff Alfian on Twitter for straying from Islam and dishonouring his family.
“Ariff Alfian Rosli is a disgrace! Rot in hell!” user @DTOTHEZAK wrote on the popular micro-blogging site.
Another user, @shkyla, wrote: “Looking at those wedding pictures of Ariff Alfian, makes me want to vomit. Blergh, disgusting.”
Muslim groups have also been quick to condemn Ariff Alfian, with the Kepong Islamic Youth Organisation (PBIK) lodging a police report yesterday over his alleged failure to adhere to Malaysia’s Islamic laws.
Other critics have taken a different tack, preferring instead to “rehabilitate” what they saw as a Muslim who had strayed far from the teachings of Islam.
This includes the Facebook group, “The Campaign to Bring Ariff Alfian Rosli Home to Malaysia to Save His Faith”, which was set up on Saturday.
The campaign’s description of its goal 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.”
As of 4.30pm today, the group had just over 170 members.
The Prime Minister’s Office has also pledged to investigate the matter, and an Umno official is expected to arrive in Dublin later this week to convince Ariff Alfian to return home.
Ariff Alfian, who left for Dublin eight years ago on a Petronas scholarship, has declined to say if he is involved in a civil partnership or a same-sex relationship.
“I feel I have been inadvertently thrust into the public eye. I just want to get by without upsetting anyone or causing any trouble. My overriding concern is for my family,” the Irish Times quoted him as saying today.
He also denied claims he had converted out of Islam, stressing that his faith was unshaken and that he would remain a Muslim until the day he dies.
Ariff Alfian added that he had not “gone missing”, as both Irish and Malaysian authorities have been aware for several years that he was legally residing there.
He said he was in regular contact with most of his family but admitted he has not spoken to his father, retired naval officer Rosli Haron, since they fell out in 2009.
Petronas, which stopped sponsoring Ariff Alfian in 2009, is reportedly demanding repayment for the RM890,000 it paid for his education in Ireland.