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Friday, April 04, 2008

Whip-happy Whiplash... IKIM responds

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Related post: Whipping Frenzy

Walski believes in being fair - believe it or not. Hat-tip to Brighteyes, who alerted Walski to a response from IKIM over the article in The Star, and the subsequent whip-lash response from the bloggerhood (including Walski's). Walski has reproduced the statement in its entirety below.

Statement by the Director-General of IKIM

I would like to refer to the article on page 3 in the Tuesday, April 3 2008 edition of The STAR in which the headlines read "Proposal to prosecute non-Muslims for khalwat". I feel it incumbent to clarify certain matters highlighted in the aforementioned article, the contents of which are contentious to say the least.

First of all, IKIM's objectives for the 2 day seminar held in collaboration with the Syariah Judiciary Department Malaysia (JKSM) was intended to review existing syariah laws to see if there were any laws that were redundant and also to propose a solution to some of the issues currently plaguing the syariah judiciary system in Malaysia.

The article in the STAR which reports that the seminar had proposed that non-Muslims caught committing khalwat with Muslims should also be sentenced accordingly but in the civil courts, is entirely erroneous. No such proposal was made, and therefore if what is reported in the Star as being comments allegedly made by Syariah Court of Appeal Judge, are also in error.

Conversely, it is our opinion that non-Muslims cannot fundamentally be charged under any provision in Islamic law by virtue of the fact that they do not profess the religion of Islam. In addition, to my knowledge, there is no such provision in the civil courts to charge a person for khalwat, and therefore it would be premature to assume that non-Muslims can also be subjected to the charge of khalwat in the civil courts.

I am disappointed with the article highlighting comments allegedly made by Datuk Mohd. Asri Abdullah which emphasized the banal, when in reality the more important substantive proposals having to do with laws protecting the rights of divorced women and their rights to maintenance, were ignored.

Towards the end of the article, it also alleges that there was a proposal calling "for the establishment of a rehabilitation center for those convicted of offences related to morals and faith such as prostitution and effeminate men". To my knowledge, I have never interpreted being effeminate as an offence. But more importantly this so called proposal as reflected in the article is not representative of the proposals made during the seminar at IKIM. If indeed the learned Syariah Court of Appeal Judge made those statements, we strongly advise that it would behoove the learned Judge to be more circumspect in future.

(source: IKIM website)

So, was it a case of MSM spin? Sloppy journalism? Or damage control on IKIM's part?
(versions from the other MSM, in the full post)

It appears, however, that Berita Harian carried a similar report. A PDF copy of the article can be downloaded here. Walski won't translate the whole thing, but the gist of the BH report is that it is the opinion that the fines currently imposed are seen as being "light", causing "an increase in Syariah crimes".

And while there was no mention about rehab for effeminate Muslims (and other undesirable types), Berita Harian also apparently ignored the "more substantive proposals".

One area of interest that Berita Harian did report on, which was absent from The Star, was this bit (translation and emphasis by myAsylum):

Sementara itu, resolusi seminar ‘Semakan Semula Korpus Undang-undang Islam di Malaysia: Keperluan dan Cabaran yang berakhir semalam mencadangkan diwujudkan ‘Syariah Bench’ di Mahkamah Sivil untuk mengendalikan kes membabitkan dua pihak berbeza agama.

Muhammad Asri berkata, draf resolusi itu turut menggariskan kedudukan Sultan sebagai pelindung semua orang Islam dalam sesebuah negeri di bawah undang-undang pentadbiran Islam.

Katanya, pelaksanaan hukuman yang diambil umat Islam di negara ini adalah berdasarkan mazhab Sultan itu sendiri.

Meanwhile, the resolution for the seminar entitled "Revision of the Corpus of Malaysian Islamic Laws", which ended yesterday, proposed the creation of a 'Syariah Bench' in the Civil Courts to handle cases involving parties of different religions.

Muhammad Asri said, the draft resolution also outlined the position of the Sultan as the protector of Muslims in a given state, under the Islamic administrative laws.

He said, the execution of sentences, as practiced by Muslims in this country, are based on the Sultan's own "mazhab" (Islamic school of thought).

(source: Berita Harian)

So, does that mean the Syariah wants to encroach into the Civil courts now? Or more backdoor Islamization, as some see it...