Concerns over Kelantan Sharia criminal code enactment

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Sisters in Islam (SIS) expresses deep concerns over the enforcement of the Kelantan Syariah Criminal Code (I) Enactment 2019 that came into force on 1 November 2021, as mentioned by Kelantan Menteri Besar Ahmad Yakob.

Ahmad’s statement that the Kelantan Syariah Criminal Code (I) Enactment 2019 is restorative and retributive and “aimed to educate and bringing offenders back to the right path of Islam and not just merely punishing them” is questionable and poses a grave concern.

What does restorative and retributive actually mean in this context? While there is mention of conducting social services for youth offenders under the supervision of imams in mosques, what is the understanding of restoration and retribution for actions that are deemed crimes under this Syariah Criminal Code and how will this be achieved in the looming tabling of the RUU355 [the hudud bill]?

We find these amendments deeply concerning as the amendments are not clearly stated but only merely mention the 24 new provisions in the enactment relating to matters such as witchcraft, false claims, attempts to convert out of Islam, distortions of Islamic teachings, disrespect for the month of Ramadan, destruction of houses of worship, and intercourse with corpses and non-humans. The amendments clearly show an obscure view of Islam.

Furthermore, there is already a recent Federal Court judgment in the case of Iki Putra bin Mubarak v Kerajaan Negeri Selangor & Anor that, on the criminalisation of unnatural sex, it is Parliament that is empowered to legislate such acts and the state has no power to enact such a law.

READ MORE:  Syariah Criminal Code (I): Towards one family, two systems?

Furthermore, we also find these developments concerning and dangerous as they violate fundamental
principles of democracy by suppressing critical thought and expression through arbitrary provisions and punishing those who do not toe the line.

They do not reflect an inclusive, progressive and tolerant Islam but merely showcase Islam as a punitive religion, as very few Muslims have the courage to question, challenge or even discuss matters of religion, even when they doubt teachings that appear unjust and incongruous to changing times and circumstances. – SIS

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