Shariah courts can’t hold non-Muslims in contempt, MAIWP lawyer reminds Federal Court

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Sulaiman, who is acting for the council in seeking to bar non-Muslim lawyer Victoria Jayaseele Martin from practising Shariah law in the federal territories, is pictured outside the Federal Court, August 13, 2015. — Pictures by Yusof Mat Isa

Sulaiman, who is acting for the council in seeking to bar non-Muslim lawyer Victoria Jayaseele Martin from practising Shariah law in the federal territories, is pictured outside the Federal Court, August 13, 2015. — Pictures by Yusof Mat Isa

PUTRAJAYA, Aug 13 — A Shariah court cannot fully function with non-Muslim Shariah lawyers as it cannot cite them for contempt, a lawyer representing the Federal Territories Islamic Council (MAIWP) told the Federal Court today.

Datuk Sulaiman Abdullah, who is acting for the council in seeking to bar non-Muslim lawyer Victoria Jayaseele Martin from practising Shariah law in the federal territories, reminded the five-man bench that the Constitution does not give the Shariah court any jurisdiction over non-Muslims.

“In a faith-based court regulating Islamic affairs and for the benefit of Muslims, only people of that faith can argue in that court,” said Sulaiman.

“If they want to practise, they must subject themselves to the court’s jurisdiction,” he added later.”

MAIWP and the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) are appealing a decision by the Court of Appeal which decided that the part in Rule 10 of the Shariah Lawyers Rules 1993, which said that only Muslims can be admitted as Shariah lawyers, exceeds the boundaries of Section 59 of the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act 1993. Read more

Two lawsuits today spotlight supremacy of constitutional guarantees vs Islamic law [UPDATED]

Source: The Malay Mail Online

State Islamic authorities have argued that fundamental constitutional rights guaranteed to all Malaysians cannot be applied to determine the validity of Islamic laws. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 13 — The country’s highest court sits today to hear two separate cases that essentially deal with one fundamental question: will future Malaysians have the right to challenge Shariah enactments that encroach on their constitutional rights regardless of their religious background?

In their appeals to outlaw cross-dressing among Muslim men and to bar non-Muslims from practising as Shariah lawyers, state Islamic authorities have argued that fundamental constitutional rights guaranteed to all Malaysians cannot be applied to determine the validity of Islamic laws.

But lawyers and observers have told Malay Mail Online that should Federal Court rule in favour of the Islamic religious bodies, all Malaysians — but especially Muslims — will effectively lose their only recourse for judicial challenge against discriminatory Shariah laws that they argue will see further curbs to their civil liberties. Read more