PETALING JAYA, Feb 18 ― Muslims should be allowed to opt out of coming under hudud law if the harsh Islamic penal code is enforced in Malaysia, lawyer Siti Kasim said today.
To enable easy identification by Islamic religious enforcers, Siti proposed the issuance of two distinct versions of the identification card (IC) to both Muslim critics and Muslim supporters of hudud law.
“I am asking for the government to provide a facility for us to opt out,” she told reporters here when met after speaking at a rally.
In arguing the need for Muslims to be allowed the choice of opting out, Siti noted the difficulties faced by Muslims who declined hudud as they could not rely on the civil courts to interpret the law as it should be.
“So I say that, for us, the Malays, the Muslims who are not interested to be governed under their so-called Shariah laws, should be allowed to opt out, because it is very simple,” she said, noting that she accepts the Islamic family laws which was envisioned by the Federal Constitution.
She said distinguishing Muslims through their Mykads is a “feasible” solution, noting that Muslims are already identified with the word “Islam” in their ICs while non-Muslims' ICs do not carry the word “Islam”.
For Muslims who want to be under hudud law, they could have ICs that carry the phrase “Islam hudud” or ICs in a different colour, she said.
She questioned however the number of Muslims who would choose to place themselves under hudud laws, predicting that many would regret after having experienced the local version of such laws which carry harsh penalties.
“If they want to implement, they can, but I can tell you, once it is implemented ― whether you want to go under hudud or not; once these people who are under hudud, they go through the process of hudud, I can tell you they will rebel, they want to come out, I'm very sure,” she said.
Siti pointed out that religious leaders currently pushing for harsher Shariah penalties are portraying Islam as being about punishments, instead of showing the beauty of Islam.
“This is something that our government must actually do, not to endorse only one version of Islam, that kind of version; but let it be open to everyone, at least people have an informed decision when they talk about whether they want to go for this kind of Islam,” she told reporters.
Siti was one of the speakers at a rally today by the Bebas movement against PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang's private member's Bill for a law amendment to increase the Shariah courts' sentencing limits to a maximum of 30 years jail, RM100,000 fine and 100 lashes, up from the current limits of three years jail, RM5,000 fine and six lashes.
Despite denial by PAS, critics have argued that the bid to change the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 is a backdoor attempt to allow the harsh Islamic penal code of hudud to be enforced and pointed out that certain hudud offences would be enforceable.
During the rally, Siti had said that Muslims should be allowed to opt out from facing the punishments under the amended version of the 1965 law.
“I have always said that as a Malay, I am the most oppressed...what to drink, what to eat, even how to think, everything, every facet of our life, we are told what to do,” she said, urging more Muslims to stand up and oppose what she termed as “Hadi's law” instead of divine law.
“Don't be afraid, I have received many threats, but because I believe in God, if I'm meant to die that way, people kill me for what I believe, I'll die proud, I'll die happy.
“So be strong and throw away any fears, because only secular will respect everyone's rights, including Hadi Awang's kind of people, we will respect their rights,” she said, adding that the Bill's supporters' rights to practise their beliefs will be respected but that such beliefs should not be imposed on critics.