KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 2 — Women’s rights group Sisters in Islam (SIS) has today questioned the newly enforced Kelantan Syariah Criminal Code (I) Enactment 2019, raising concerns over its enforcement which came into effect yesterday.
The group said the law does not reflect an inclusive, progressive and tolerant Islam but merely showcases Islam as a punitive religion.
This, it said, was because 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.
“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,” the group said in a statement here.
This as Kelantan Mentri Besar Datuk Ahmad Yakob was quoted as saying that the enforcement of the enactment was aimed at educating and bringing offenders back to the right path of Islam, not merely punishing them.
“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 group further asked.
The enactment was tabled at the Kelantan State Assembly in October 2019 before it was passed and eventually received royal assent on July 14, 2020, and gazetted on December 31, 2020.
There are 24 new provisions in the enactment relating to matters such as witchcraft, false claims, attempt to convert out of Islam, distortion of Islamic teachings, disrespecting the month of Ramadan, destroying houses of worship, necrophilia and bestiality.
The group then cited a recent Federal Court judgment on the case of Iki Putra bin Mubarak v. Kerajaan Negeri Selangor & Anor, where the court noted that Parliament is empowered to legislate on the criminalisation of unnatural sex and that the state has no power to enact such
“We find these amendments deeply concerning as the amendments are not clearly stated but only merely mention 24 new provisions in the enactment,” they said.