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13 November 2012

Malaysia: Hudud will affect non-Muslims

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Several non-Muslim religious leaders voiced their reservations on implementing hudud law in the country.

By G Vinod

Petaling Jaya: Hudud laws will eventually affect non-Muslims despite certain quarters’ arguing that it only applies to Muslims.

“Even without hudud, we find non-Muslims being affected by the existing Islamic laws in the country especially when it involves married couples, when one decides to convert to Islam unilaterally,” said Hindu Sangam president RS Mogan Shan.

He was referring to the case of S Shamala and M Indra in 2009, where their spouses converted to Islam without informing the family, creating a long custody battle in the courts.

Last week, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Jamil Khir Baharom said that hudud would not affect non-Muslims should it be implemented in Malaysia.

“The Syariah Court only has jurisdiction on Muslims as stipulated under the Federal Constitution,” he was reported as saying.

Although he respects Islam’s position as the official religion of Malaysia, Mogan said he does not agree with hudud being implemented as Malaysia is a secular state.

He also said it was better for the government to stick to civil law, adding that it was sufficient to dispense justice equally to Muslims and non-Muslims.

“We are living in the same country. Anything you do to Muslims or the non-Muslims will affect everyone in Malaysia,” he added.

He also said that Hindu Sangam is handling nearly 1,000 cases involving overlapping jurisdiction between Syariah courts and civil courts.

“When we go to the civil courts, they say they have no jurisdiction on Syariah matters. Even when we decide to go to the Syariah court, they could not hear our case because we are non-Muslims.

“Even Syariah lawyers refuse to take our case because we’re not Muslims. So where are the non-Muslims to go?” he asked, adding that politicians were using the Hudud issue to gain mileage.

Dual criminal justice system

Malaysian Gurdwara Council president Jagis Singh echoed Mogan’s sentiments, saying under Islamic laws, non-Muslims are not given equal rights.

“Under Islamic law, non-Muslims are only known as protectorates. In the event of a crime, a non-Muslims’ testimony has little value. Even a Muslim woman’s testimony carries lesser weight than a Muslim man’s statement,” he said.

He also said that implementation of hudud would be unconstitutional as the highest law of the land guaranteed Malaysians equality before the law.

“Like other non-Muslims in the country, the Sikhs are apprehensive about the implementation of hudud.

“It won’t be suitable for a multi-cultural country like Malaysia,” said Jagir, who is also the deputy president of the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism.

Brickfields Buddhist Mahavihara vice-president Premasilaka KD Serisena said that it was ridiculous that politicians were considering to implement hudud on top of the existing legal system.

“Let’s look at it from a common sense perspective. Hudud is a criminal justice system and with its implementation, you are creating a dual criminal justice system.

“My question here is, what if a non-Muslim rapes a Muslim? Or Muslim commits a crime against a non-Muslim? Which system are you going to use? It’s ridiculous,” he said.

He added that it was simplistic for anyone to assume that a criminal would only commit crimes against a person of his own religion.

Premasilaka also took Jamil to task, saying non-Muslims were already affected by several provisions made by the Islamic religious authorities.

“Non-Muslims are barred from using the word Allah in Selangor. But the state anthem has the word Allah in it. What do we do then? Keep mum when the word comes?” he asked.

Training his guns against politicians, Premasilaka said that political leaders had lost touch on the real issues plaguing the people by playing up the hudud issue.

“People are more worried about escalating cost of living and other pressing matters. As for the legal system, as long as justice is dispensed fairly, no one will complain about it,” he said.

(Courtesy: FMT News)

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