KUALA LUMPUR, July 26 — The Federal Territories mufti has defended Kelantan’s move to implement Shariah caning in public, claiming the punishment was beneficial especially when performed in the open.
In a brief statement, mufti Datuk Zulkifli Mohamad also accused critics of Shariah caning as prejudiced against the Islamic criminal justice system, encouraging them to first gain full understanding from authoritative Islamic sources.
“We urge for parties who do not agree with the implementation of Shariah caning punishment to research and verify first with an authoritative Islamic body before releasing statements that are unfair and causing division,” he said.
“We regret that some who criticise are from the intelligentsia, but have failed to get the real picture on implementation of Shariah caning, and are being prejudiced against anything linked to the Islamic criminal justice system.”The same article also referred to the Quranic verse 24:2 as scriptural evidence that public caning is mandated in Islam.
It also claimed the main benefit from public displays of canings was to provide education and serve as a lesson, by instilling fear that would discourage the commission of the same vice.
“This shows that caning was commanded not to cause hurt, but the benefits include being able to prevent the offender from continuing his act,” said the article, pointing at Saudi Arabia as a modern role model when it comes to such punishment.
The Kelantan legislative assembly earlier this month amended the state’s Shariah Criminal Procedure Enactment 2002 to allow religious offenders in the PAS-governed state to be caned publicly.
Kelantan’s adoption of public caning also coincided with a move in the opposite direction in Indonesia’s ultra conservative Acheh region.
The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia has since denounced the decision, saying the federal government has a duty to ensure that human rights are preserved in every state of the federation.
In response, Zulkifli today congratulated Kelantan and other states for their commitment in planning and implementing Islamic criminal laws “fairly and professionally”.
“We hope every party can cooperate in implementing Islamic laws so the benefits in the form on peace, success and safety can be enjoyed by all,” he said.