Repeal amendments allowing public caning in Kelantan, urge Sisters-in-Islam

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Sisters in Islam (SIS) is appalled by the decision made by the Kelantan State government to pass the amendments to its Kelantan Syariah Criminal Procedure Enactment 2002, which among others will allow Sharia offenders to be caned publicly.

Sisters in Islam remain firm in our position against caning as a form of torture under the Universal Declaration Human Rights (UDHR).

The Kelantan state government’s decision to enforce public caning in the state is a deplorable form of humiliation and shaming. It will brand Malaysia as a country that allows uncivilised punishment which aims at the degradation of human dignity and stigmatisation, rather than rehabilitation.

How far away are we from other uncivilised punishments such as stoning being introduced? How far will we allow this to continue before we say this is not Islam, and this is not what we want for our brothers and sisters in Kelantan?

We demand that the Kelantan state government reveal to us where exactly in the holy Qur’an does it command punishments such as public caning. Do not deceive the Muslim population here by brandishing the holy religion of Islam to justify these deplorable actions.

The puritanical brand of Islam that we see in Malaysia today has failed to provide a solution to address the decay of moral and ethical values. Kelantan has witnessed high rates of pornography, rape and incest.

Repression, shaming, and punishment does not lead to higher Islamic values. This type of approach to ‘managing’ behaviour in Kelantan will only create an increasingly repressive environment, and unfortunately, as we have seen in Acheh, with women and the poor bearing the brunt. In fact in Acheh, the imposition of Sharia laws and punishments has extended to non-Muslims as well.

These repressive laws and corporal punishment (including caning) are being justified in the name of Islam. SIS wishes to emphasise that Islam is a religion of compassion. It is mentioned in the Qur’an (16:125), “Invite all to the way of the Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching, and reason with them in the ways that are best and most gracious.”

Any laws passed under the name of Islam must take into account the most fundamental teachings of the Qur’an based on justice and mercy and the right to preserve human dignity. Even in the verses regarding punishment in the Qur’an (5: 38-39 and 5:33-34), God stressed the qualities of mercy and forgiveness.

As Malaysians, we demand that the Kelantan state government repeal the amendment in the Kelantan Syariah Criminal Procedure Enactment 2002 and observe Article 5 of the Universal Declaration Human Rights (UDHR) that no one shall be subjected to torture, cruel or degrading form of punishment.

The federal government must act or it will be irresponsible in neglecting this issue as one which threatens the nation’s values and aspirations.

The Malaysian public cannot remain apathetic on this issue anymore. This corruption and use of Islam to deal with social issues is seeping into every aspect of our lives and will destroy the very social fabric on which our forefathers built this great country.

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