Concerns Over the Kelantan Syariah Criminal Code (I) Enactment 2019

This statement is in response to the Kelantan Syariah Criminal Code (I) Enactment 2019 that has come into force from 1 November 2021 as featured in Malaysiakini’s article published on 1 November 2021: https://m.malaysiakini.com/news/597610 (Headline: MB umum Kelantan kuat kuasa Enakmen Kanun Jenayah Syariah mulai hari ini. Translation: MB announces the enforcement of the Kelantan Syariah Criminal Code (I) Enactment today)

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

Datuk Ahmad Yakob’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?

We find these amendments deeply concerning as the amendments is not clearly stated but only merely mentioning of the 24 new provisions in the enactment relating to matters such as withcraft, false claim, attempt to convert out of Islam, distortion of Islamic teachings, disrespecting the month of Ramadan, destroying houses of worship, intercourse with corpses and non-humans. The amendments clearly shows an obscure view of Islam. Furthermore, there is already a recent Federal Court judgement on the case of Iki Putra bin Mubarak v Kerajaan Negeri Selangor & Anor that on the criminalisation of unnatural sex, it is the Parliament that is empowered to legislate such act and the state has no power to enact such law.

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. It does not reflect an inclusive, progressive and tolerant Islam but merely showcasing 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.

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