The video shows the pair dancing barefoot on a wall in front of the holy site in crop tops and shorts, behaviour which is widely perceived to be disrespectful in this conservative region.
The city mosque of Kota Kinabalu in Borneo’s Sabah state is a popular tourist attraction where visitors are expected to observe local customs and etiquette codes.
Datuk Jamal Sakaran, the mosque’s chairman, described the women’s behaviour as “regrettable”, as tourists to the area had been briefed on appropriate conduct at the mosque, according to Malaysian news site The Star.
“We opened our doors to visitors because we want to introduce and let the people know the beauty of Islam, but such action has tarnished the image of our religion,” Jamal said.
“Our immediate action is to close the mosque to visitors. All express buses, Grab cars and taxis are not allowed to bring tourists into the compound or park their vehicles in the area.”
The state tourism, culture and environment ministry are reportedly taking measures to identify the tourists. A second minister called the actions of the women “outrageous and disrespectful”, especially in front of a place of worship.
This isn’t the first time tourists have clashed with authorities in the small Malaysian state, 55 percent of which is made up of forest and protected areas. In 2015, a British backpacker, two Canadians and a Dutchman pleaded guilty to committing obscene acts in a public place after stripping on Mount Kinabalu.
The site is sacred to many local people who believe that the mountain holds the spirits of their ancestors, leading some to argue that the disrespectful act prompted an earthquake which took place several days later, killing 18 people.