Islamic laws manipulated for political mileage, says Siti Kasim

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PETALING JAYA: Islamic laws in Malaysia have been manipulated and used as a tool by politicians interested only in obtaining political mileage, says lawyer-cum-activist Siti Kasim.

Hence, the Malays in this country should stand up and question the implementation of these laws instead of taking them lying down, she added.

“These man-made laws will affect the Malays first, and then the rest (those of other races).

“We the Malays must question these laws instead of simply accepting them as God’s law.

“Learn about Islam from those who are genuine, not from those with ulterior motives,” she told FMT.

Her comments came amid plans by the government to take over PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang’s private member’s bill to amend the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965.

The revised planned amendments by Hadi seek to increase the cap on punishment dealt by shariah courts to 30 years’ jail, RM100,000 fine and 100 strokes of the whip.

It is now limited to three years’ jail, RM5,000 fine and six strokes of the rotan.

And just last week, G25, a group comprising Malay retired senior civil servants, said the way Malaysian religious authorities were policing khalwat (close proximity) is beyond anything in Saudi Arabia or other Gulf States.

The group’s adviser, Mohd Sheriff Kassim, pointed out that even Saudi Arabia, the country which is home to Islam’s holiest site, has issued stern guidelines to limit the powers of the moral police to harass and arrest Muslims.

A couple of weeks prior to that, Malaysia was labelled a “grave violator” of human rights in the Freedom of Thought Report by the International Humanist and Ethical Union.

The report also stated the country rates very badly with ethnic Malays subjected to strict state controls over an enforced, homogenous religious identity, including mandatory shariah laws, and in two states — Kelantan and Terengganu — hudud enactments mandating death for “apostasy”.

“If these continue, Malaysia will soon be a country that opposes all forms of human rights,” said Siti in response to these reports.

“So we are now at the crossroads. If the Malays do not speak up, we will be ruined and it will take years to recover, if ever.”

She also said there was no way Malaysia will achieve its goal of attaining developed nation status if the “man-made” laws continue to be an object used to suppress citizens’ access to basic human rights.

“The Malays must also realise that standing against the politicians who are using religion for political mileage would not make them a murtad (apostate).”