Human rights activists have urged the Thai authorities to not extradite a Malaysian trans influencer seeking asylum in Australia after she was accused of insulting Islam in her home country.
Nur Sajat, 35, was arrested by Thai immigration authorities on 8th September on the grounds that she entered the country illegally from Malaysia.
The social media influencer, whose full name is Muhammad Sajjad Kamaruz Zaman, is wanted by Malaysian authorities for allegedly insulting Islam.
An arrest warrant was issued for her after she failed to turn up to a hearing at the Syariah High Court in February on charges of insulting Islam by dressing as a woman and attending a religious ceremony.
If convicted she could face up to three years in jail.
The Thai immigration officials reportedly released her on bail, but the Malaysian authorities cancelled her passport and are now negotiating to have her extradited.
Nur told her 312,000 followers on Instagram that she is terrified of going back to Malaysia as she has received countless death threats in the country.
The Harian Metro reports that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has received an application from Nur for refugee status in Australia.
The news site The Star reports that the Thai authorities said: “A check found that Nur Sajat received a UNHCR card issued by its headquarters in Bangkok.”
According to the UNHCR website: “UNHCR identity documentation provides a level of protection which may reduce the risk of arrest.”
The website also states that the card”has no formal legal value in Malaysia, neither is it a passport”.
Nur went viral earlier this year when she posted a video on Instagram stating: “(Anti-trans people) made me want to quit the religion. Because we didn’t do anything wrong but people harshly blame us for being bad.”
One comment beneath the Facebook video read “I want to stone him now” while another said “his blood is halal”.
Sunai Phasuk, a senior Thailand researcher at the NGO ‘Human Rights Watch’, said: “The prosecution in Malaysia is based on her gender identity so there is already sufficient ground for her protection under international standards.”
According to Human Rights Watch, transgender people in Malaysia “face arbitrary arrest, physical and sexual assault, imprisonment, discriminatory denial of health care and employment, and other abuses”.
No further updates on the status of Nur’s asylum application have been released.
The Thai authorities have not commented on whether they plan to extradite ether back to Malaysia.