KUALA LUMPUR: To find out whether PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang’s private member’s bill affects non-Muslims, just take a look at Kelantan, says a lawyer from the state.
Nik Elin Rashid said events showed that shariah laws were being imposed on non-Muslim citizens in the PAS-led state.
For example, she said a non-Muslim owner of a watch shop had been fined for displaying a poster of Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai with her hair uncovered.
In the past, when cinemas were allowed in Kelantan, she said the movies screened only showed actresses with covered hair.
Nik Elin said the PAS government in Kelantan did not take steps to ensure shariah laws applied only to Muslims.
“Instead, they set the laws through the city councils which then implemented the policies, such as that anyone who wants to work in a supermarket must cover her hair,” Nik Elin said at a forum on a public action plan against the amendments to Act 355, in Brickfields here last night.
The forum was organised by Hindraf.
Nik Elin said PAS’ argument that hudud would deter crime was flawed.
“We have the Dangerous Drugs Act which makes the death sentence mandatory, yet we still have drug addicts.
“If the noose is not going to scare them, what makes you think cutting off the hands is going to?” she said.
Bebas spokesman Azrul Mohd Khalib, who was present, said because the amended laws for Muslims would be disproportionately harsher, they would eventually be imposed on non-Muslims as well.
“You’re going to hear people say it’s not fair, we want things equal as is stipulated under the Federal Constitution.”
He said the laws then would also make it difficult for non-Muslim employers to hire Muslim workers.
“In Kelantan, businesses are fined if their Muslim workers don’t wear the headscarf.
“If you’re a non-Muslim business owner, are you going to hire Muslims? Of course not. Because it’s not only going to affect your workers, it’s going to affect you.”
He said the laws were not only unfair to non-Muslims but also to Muslims, who were being “brainwashed” into believing they had to support the amendments.
“Being Muslim should not provide a state with the right to exercise religious tyranny over other Muslims. They feel that because you’re Muslim, they can do whatever they like to you.”
Lawyer Siti Kasim said shariah laws governed “personal sins”, such as khalwat (proximity), instead of crimes that affected others.
“Khalwat can be charged against a roomful of people who are not related to one another, not just against a girl and a boy alone in a room.
“We Muslims can be dragged to court and sentenced to 100 lashes for being in this room together,” she said.
Siti then spoke about the severe penalty for missing Friday prayers under shariah law.
“So you spend 30 years in jail just because you missed Friday prayers? This is what our Malay Muslims are not thinking about.”
Siti also renewed the call for Muslims to be allowed to opt out of being governed by shariah law.
“Who are we to dictate what people believe? I suggest that people be given the option to choose if they want this kind of punishment or to opt out.
“I want to see how many of these Muslims who say this is God’s law will opt for this kind of punishment.
“And if non-Muslims want to be punished under Muslim laws, then go ahead.”
PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang, through a private member’s bill tabled last year, seeks to increase the maximum punishment for shariah offences to 30 years’ jail, 100 lashes of the cane and RM100,000 fine.
Shariah punishments are currently capped at three years in jail, six strokes of the cane and RM5,000 fine.
Hadi’s bill has drawn protests from both sides of the political divide who fear the amendment will pave the way for the implementation of Islamic capital punishment or hudud.