Malaysians Start A Twitter Campaign To Free A Couple Detained For Smacking Their Son In Sweden

The hashtag #SwedenLetThemGo is being used to demand the release of a Malaysian couple who have been separated from their children and detained for a month after slapping their 12-year-old son on the hand.

1. On Dec. 18, Swedish authorities arrested Azizul Raheem Awalludin, a Tourism Malaysia director in Stockholm, and his wife Shalwati Nurshal, a school teacher, after they reportedly smacked their 12-year-old son on his hand for not performing his prayers.

As there is no bail system in Sweden, the couple, in their early 40s, have been in custody since December and are awaiting a trial, The Star reported.

Their four children, who have been placed in a foster home in Sweden, have not been permitted to see their parents.

In Sweden, all forms of corporal punishment, including spanking, slapping, pinching, hair-pulling and whipping, are against the law. In 1979, it was the first country to ban physical punishment against children in any circumstances.

Depending on the severity of the crime, parents who are charged with corporal punishment are liable to be imprisoned for six months to 10 years.

A source told The Star that the parents had hit their son on his hands for not performing his prayers, but he did not suffer any bruises. However, when a school counselor was informed of this, the parents were arrested and the children were taken away to a foster home.

The four children, a 14-year-old girl, and three boys aged 12, 11, and 7, are reportedly unhappy in their non-Muslim foster home because their foster parents have a dog (which is forbidden in Islam) and also because they have to share non-halal utensils with them.

Malaysia’s foreign minister told a Malaysian news website, Astro Awani, that taking action based on hearsay, “might affect bilateral relations.”

He said, “We have to respect the laws of that particular country and whatever help that can be given will have to go through the proper channels and procedure.”

5. On Jan. 19, a Malaysian journalist, Joe Lee, (@klubbkiddkl) started a Twitter campaign demanding the release of the couple using the hashtag, #SwedenLetThemGo.

6. Lee directed his tweets to the Embassy of Sweden in Kuala Lumpur.

.@SwedeninMY On Dec 18 Tourism Malaysia director in Stockholm Azizul Raheem Awalludin & wife Shalwati Nurshal were detained #SwedenLetThemGo

— klubbkidd™ (@klubbkiddkl)

.@SwedeninMY We understand & respect the laws of your nation, however we, the people of Malaysia want to voice our concern. #SwedenLetThemGo

— klubbkidd™ (@klubbkiddkl)

.@SwedeninMY No child should be away from their family. And the children are in a foreign land, away from all they love. #SwedenLetThemGo

— klubbkidd™ (@klubbkiddkl)

9. His tweets, sent to over 180,000 of his Twitter followers, asked Malaysians to unite and fight for the couple’s cause.

Stand up Malaysians. We are only asking for the expedited process of Azizul Raheem Awalludin & Shalwati Nurshal’s case #SwedenLetThemGo

— klubbkidd™ (@klubbkiddkl)

Let’s call for the four children of Azizul and Shalwati to be reunited with their parents. #SwedenLetThemGo

— klubbkidd™ (@klubbkiddkl)

We talk so much about unity. About being one. Regardless of race or religion. Let us be heard when we say #SwedenLetThemGo

— klubbkidd™ (@klubbkiddkl)

12. Since then, several Malaysians on Twitter contributed to the hashtag #SwedenLetThemGo, demanding the release of the parents and asking authorities to reunite them with their children.

#SwedenLetThemGo ... Let the kids go back to their family or at least to the people they want to be with...

— Anis Rahim (@Aniesonick)

Join the rally of #SwedenLetThemGo curated by @klubbkiddkl by tweeting to @SwedeninMY pertaining to the recent case of detained Malaysians.

— Muhammad Hafiz (@muhammadhaf1z)

#SwedenLetThemGo Please...

— AMJ (@amjae)

#SwedenLetThemGo #SwedenLetThemGo #SwedenLetThemGo #SwedenLetThemGo #SwedenLetThemGo

— muhammad hanafi (@hanafi79)

We won't stop until Sweden let them go. United we stand, Malaysians. Keep the married couple whose in jail in our prayers. #SwedenLetThemGo

— محمد اشرف زباني (@asyrafzabani)

17. Some cited the cultural differences between raising children in Asia and Europe.

#SwedenLetThemGo It is a cultural difference. I believe the parents really love their children. Now the kids suffered without them.

— Amzar Aziz (@AmzarAziz_)

#SwedenLetThemGo As much as you want them to be sensitive of your laws, you have to be sensitive of theirs too!

— Sunny Side Up (@JJ_184)

What?? This is ridiculous!! Spanking is normal in Asia. They have the rights to spank their kids. #swedenletthemgo

— Polakonator & Tea (@meandmytea)

20. Others were concerned about the children’s separation from their parents in a foreign country.

#SwedenLetThemGo nothing more frightening than living with total strangers in a foreign country. may Allah ease. :'(

— najwa arifah (@NajwArifah)

Agree we should respect Sweden's law. But sometimes, Swedish should learn humanity. Allow the kids to go back Malaysia #SwedenLetThemGo

— Tan Keng Liang (@tankengliang)

Heartbreaking when children are separated from their parents. #SwedenLetThemGo

— sharifahaLEYA (@sharifahaLEYA)

#SwedenLetThemGo…..let my cousin n Aunty And Uncle come back Malaysia and my cousin need they PARENTS.Let them be together again #SwedenLetThemGo.

We do respect your law and reg. Its just that humanity is more than clauses words sentences and orders. #Twitterjaya #SwedenLetThemGo

— Shuib Ishak (@shuibishak)

i respect the law, but separating kids with their loving parents are totally against human rights #SwedenLetThemGo @SwedeninMY

— badrul hashim (@badrulhashim)

@SwedenInMy this is injustice!! We respect ur law but the kids should be reunite with their parents ASAP! #SwedenLetThemGo

— N.Arisham | BBUGMY (@arisham2003)

27. The Swedish embassy responded that they could not comment on the ongoing case.

@arisham2003 We appreciate your concern but as the Swedish judiciary is independent the Embassy will not comment on the ongoing case itself

— Sweden in Malaysia (@SwedeninMY)

28. A Facebook page, Bring Shal and Family Home, was created on Jan. 18 and has garnered more than 8,000 likes.

29. The page posted a screenshot from the Facebook page of the couple’s 14-year-old daughter Aisyah, which read, “We are sad… we need mummy and daddy… we miss them so much…please come back to us… we can’t live without them.”

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Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Tasneem Nashrulla at
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