Malaysia moots law to try non-Muslims snuggling Muslims

April 3rd, 2008 - 5:42 pm ICT by admin  

Kuala Lumpur, April 3 (IANS) A law to prosecute non-Muslims found to be “in close proximity” to a Muslim has been mooted in Malaysia. A seminar on review of the Sharia Law, the Islamic jurisprudence, Wednesday suggested that non-Muslims found committing ‘khalwat’ (close proximity) with Muslims also be held liable. The present law applies only to Muslims, who form the majority population.

This was among the proposals made at the two-day seminar organised by the Islamic Institute of Understanding Malaysia (Ikim) and the Sharia Judiciary Department of the Malaysian government.

Sharia Court of Appeal Judge Mohamad Asri Abdullah said the seminar had proposed that non-Muslims committing khalwat with Muslims should also be sentenced accordingly, but in civil courts.

“We don’t have the jurisdiction to sentence non-Muslims committing khalwat with Muslims,” he told reporters after the seminar.

“The Muslims can be sentenced in Sharia courts and the non-Muslim partners can probably be sentenced in the civil courts to be fair to both parties,” Abdullah was quoted as saying in The Star newspaper.

He said the proposal, contained in a draft resolution at the seminar, would be forwarded to the Attorney General’s Chambers.

“It is up to the Attorney General’s Chambers or the relevant authorities to decide how to create such a law,” he said.

He declined to elaborate when the proposal would be forwarded to the government.

Another proposal is to impose heftier penalties - of up to four times the current penalties - on Muslims caught for khalwat, prostitution, consuming alcohol and involvement in gambling activities.

The relevant law has not been reviewed since 1984. “It has been more than 20 years,” said Asri.

There was also a proposal for Sharia judges to enforce whipping for these offences.

Another proposal called for the establishment of a rehabilitation centre for those convicted of offences related to morals and faith such as prostitution and effeminate men.

With Islam as its official religion, Malaysia is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious society where, besides the Muslim Malays, ethnic Chinese form 33 percent and Indian settlers, a majority of them Tamil Hindus, form eight percent of the population of 28 million.

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