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PETALING JAYA, Oct 19, 2014

Syed Azmi Alhabshi, the man behind the “I Want To Touch A Dog” event said he received numerous criticisms and hate messages from those who disagreed with him, many claiming that it was against Islamic teachings.

“I got so much of negative feedback when I introduced the idea to the public. The fact that I am Muslim made it even worse. However, I am so happy to see the great success today and that its goal has been supported and understood by so many, including the Muslims,” he said.

The event, held from 8am-10am at the Central Park, Bandar Utama today saw Malaysians of all races and religions come together to share their common interest and fascination for man’s best friend.

 Even his disability did not stop him from coming to the event to spend time with man's best friend.
Even his disability did not stop him from coming to the event to spend time with man’s best friend.

More than 1,500 dog owners, lovers and curious members of the public were seen chatting, petting the animals, taking tonnes of selfies and having a great time.

Syed said he was overwhelmed by the huge turnout and was glad there were more “lovers than haters”.

Experts and dog lovers alike shared their experiences in the hope to better educate the public on the wonders man’s best friend provides, and the impact of the negative perception some have on them.

My New Friend... taking some time off to get a quick picture with one of the dogs at the event.
My New Friend… taking some time off to get a quick picture with one of the dogs at the event.

Dr Hasnul Ismail, a veterinarian with Heshmael’s Clinic for Pets and taxi driver Mohd Kamil Affendy Hashim have been heavily criticised for their actions which many have said was a defiance of their religion.

They, and Ustaz Iqbal Parjin stood in front of the crowd today and explained the reasons behind their move, and how in essence, it does not contravene the teachings of Islam.

“Islam is a religion which promotes the concept of love and asks its followers to be good to all creatures, including dogs.

“It also allows for the possession of dogs especially for certain purposes such as hunting and guarding. It is not a sin to touch a dog if it was done so for a good reason,” was the general statement provided by them.

More than 100 dog owners participated in the event aimed to help people overcome their fear of dogs and learn to be compassionate and loving towards the animal.

Among them was Yazlina Yazid, 48, who attended the event with her husband and their two dogs, Ayoub and Atan.

Don't worry, he won't bite... a couple introducing their child to a dog.
Don’t worry, he won’t bite… a couple introducing their child to a dog.

“This is a wonderful event and through this, we can see that all Malaysians, including the Malays, are kind and compassionate, even to animals.

“It is also good to see people of all races gathering and uniting in the celebration for a purpose that makes us human. No judgements or discrimination is visible. In fact, there were many Malays who are so excited and interested in petting and playing with our dogs,” she told The Rakyat Post.

British expatriate Thomas Mullay, 27, said he was surprised by how united the crowd were, despite the racial tension he read about constantly in the media.

“I have worked here for a year and I was under the impression that the different races are separated and even hate each other. But my views have changed after seeing all this.

“Everyone is talking to each other as if they have been friends for years. The Muslims are petting the dogs and exchanging ideas with the dog owners who are from different religions.”

Muhammad Yunus came with his wife and two toddlers to better understand the animal which he has always perceived as dangerous and intimidating.

Look ... she's so gentle. A woman shows no fear as she feeds one of the dogs at the event.
Look … she’s so gentle. A woman shows no fear as she feeds one of the dogs at the event.

“My children loved the dogs! My wife was a little sceptical about coming as she, like most of us, believed that dogs are impure.

“We learned many things today, and we were definitely enlightened on the real teachings of Islam which has allowed us to be more comfortable towards the animal,” said Yunus who is a secondary school teacher.

“I will pass my newfound knowledge onto my students and hope this will help in changing the nation’s views on dogs.”

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