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Tuesday, Nov 25 , 2014 ( Safar, 1436)

Updated:10:00 PM GMT

Non-Muslim Rights Incite Malaysia Uproar

OnIslam & News Agencies
Non-Muslim Rights Stir Malaysia Uproar
PAS officials accuse opponents of creating fear among non-Muslims in Malaysia

CAIRO – The summoning of four tourists for allege indecent behavior in a Malaysian state rule by an Islamic party is sparking heated debates about the rights of non-Muslims in the Asian country.

“There could be more of such cases in which the rights of non-Muslims have been violated, but not revealed,” Hu Pang Chaw, head of PAS Supporters Congress, told The Star newspaper on Monday, December 10.

Summonses were issued for four foreign tourists in Kelentan, ruled by the opposition Islamic party PAS, for alleged indecent behavior.

Local media said two men on a plane-spotting outing near the airport and a teenage couple in Tengku Anis Park were issued with summonses in October and last month respectively for indecent behavior.

The four tourists have denied any wrongdoing, saying that the municipal council's enforcement officers "were merely abusing their position".

attacked the measures, dubbing them unfair to non-Muslims throughout the 22 years of PAS rule in Kelantan.

“The couples involved were non-Muslims,” Hu said.

“And, the enforcement officers were subjective in issuing the summonses from an Islamic stand.

“This is not fair,” he was quoted as saying by China Press.

Chaw criticized the summonses, describing the measure as unfair to non-Muslims in Kelantan.

“The couples involved were non-Muslims,” he said.

“And, the enforcement officers were subjective in issuing the summonses from an Islamic stand.

“This is not fair,” he was quoted as saying by China Press.

Furthermore, he accused PAS of being overzealous is law enforcement after a billboard advertisement by an electrical appliance shop was taken down for containing “indecent images”.

“It was a picture of a woman covering a man's eyes from behind,” he said.

“No action was taken against the shop but the billboard was taken down anyway.”

With an estimated 800,000 members, PAS is the main rival of Prime Minister Najib Razak's United Malays National Organization.

Hudud are part of PAS’ political agenda and has been one of the pillars of its policies.

A few years ago, PAS has enacted the hudud laws in its stronghold in Kelantan to be imposed only on Muslims, who represent about 90 percent of the state's 1.5 million population.

The laws introduced hudud for theft, robbery, adultery, liquor consumption and apostasy.

Fear-mongering

Tourism Minister Dr Ng Yen Yen criticize PAS policy of “khalwat” (close proximity), warning it would drive away non-Muslim tourists.

“Such policy of issuing summonses on 'khalwat' should not be implemented on non-Muslims," Dr Ng said.

“Furthermore, what did they do wrong as they were together at the plane spotting area near Sultan Ismail Petra Airport, which is an open public area.”

But PAS accused opponents of creating fear among non-Muslims.

“Without any proof or evidence, The Star has concocted a vile report, and I believe it provides strong ground for the Kelantan state government to consider legal action against the paper,” PAS secretary-general Mustafa Ali told Harakah Daily, referring to the newspaper of the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA).

He explained that khalwat is an offence “which comes under the purview of Islamic enforcement officers and which must go through the Shari`ah court before any punishment can be imposed”.

PAS lawmaker Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud also denied MCA claims that the Islamic party was seeking to impose Islamic laws on non-Muslims.

“This is an attempt to instill fear into non-Muslims that Shari`ah laws will affect them,” Mariah told The Malaysia Insider.

She explained that the offence of indecent behavior is enforceable on all by the local councils, while khalwat is only enforceable on Muslims by the religious authorities.

“Indecent behavior is enforceable by local council by-laws. Even Western countries have this rule. This is universal,” she said.

“Please check on all local council laws in Malaysia. All have this clause on indecent behavior.

“Khalwat is a term used for Muslims and enforced by Jabatan Agama,” the Kota Raja MP told The Malaysian Insider in a text message, referring to the state religious affairs department.

“But don’t frighten the non-Muslims by using the term khalwat as this is a term used in the Shari`ah laws for Muslims. Don’t confuse public by using a term that is not applicable to them.”

Muslim Malays form about 60 percent of Malaysia's 26-million population, while Christians make up around 9.1 percent.

Buddhists constitute 19.2 percent, Hindu 6.3 while other traditional Chinese religions make up the rest of the population.
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