Mahathir rejects Islamic law

The Malaysian prime minister has rejected Islamic criminal laws introduced by an opposition-ruled state because of their "cruel punishments".

    Mahathir Muhammad is considered as a secular Muslim

    Mahathir Muhammad was quoted by The Star newspaper on Tuesday as saying he did not

    consider Terengganu's Islamic criminal legislation as true Sharia laws.

     

    His comments came after the state, controlled by the

    Islamic Party (PAS), announced a Sharia act to criminalise

    illicit sex, drinking alcohol and the renunciation of Islam.

    Sharia punishments include stoning to death for adultery, amputation of

    limbs for theft, death for robbery, and 40 to 80 lashes of the whip

    for drinking alcohol.

    For those renouncing Islam, offenders have three days to repent,

    failing which the punishment is death and confiscation of property.

    Legal action

    "It is PAS's law," said the veteran premier, who retires on Friday

    after 22 years in office.

    "They can implement it but if they do something which is

    inconsistent with the country's laws, we will take legal action." 

    Legal experts say PAS has no right to impose criminal laws,

    which come under the federal government's jurisdiction, but the

    party insists these are religious matters which come under the state's

    purview.

    PAS has consistently criticised Mahathir's government for following a western, secular model at the expense of a traditional Islamic system which is popular with Malaysia's Muslims. 

    The PAS party advocates the
    Islamisation of Malaysian society

    Defending Sharia

    In a recent interview, Terengganu's Chief Minister Abd al-Hadi Awang defended the Sharia code.

    "Although our penalties are harsh and terrifying, we must realise that these offences and sins... are truly evil and despicable," he said.  

     
     

    Muslims make up 60% of Malaysia's 23 million people, but

    Sharia law has been opposed by members of the large ethnic Chinese

    and Indian minorities.

    At present Sharia law covers civil matters such as divorce for

    Malaysian Muslims, but is not part of the criminal code under

    Mahathir's government.

    PAS, which also rules neighbouring Kelantan state and holds 27

    of Malaysia's 193 federal parliament seats, is the only significant

    threat to Mahathir's United Malays National Organisation.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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