Arbitrary use of law is oppressive to society

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Sisters in Islam is concerned about the recent case where a woman was sentenced to six months’ jail and fined RM15,000 by the Ipoh Magistrate Court as she was found guilty on three counts of insulting Prophet Muhammad under section 298 of the Penal Code.

Section 298 of the Penal Code which states “deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person” has been used predominantly against non-Muslims and their actions that were seen harmful against Islam.

How about the Muslim politicians or public figures who openly make comments that are insulting of other faiths – are they being charged under the same law as well? Why is there selective prosecution of such offences?

The term “religious feelings” under section 298 of the Penal Code should also then be applied to other faiths and religions such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism.

We are disappointed that the law is being used arbitrarily against religious minorities. As a society who believe in peace and unity, we should be promoting inter-religious harmony, through dialogue. It should be conducted in a good manner as proposed in the Qur’an, “Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best” (an-Nahl:125).

The time has come to review section 298 of the Penal Code and whether such a provision is in the best interest of all Malaysians.

What we need is an open environment for discussion and dialogue to overcome our ignorance, prejudice and misunderstanding about the religions that we practice here in Malaysia.

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