Prison for non-Muslims who criticize Islam in Malaysia

22 March, 2006
Prison for non-Muslims who criticize Islam in Malaysia

Warning announced by justice minister, in reply to criticisms against
family laws which allows Muslim men to take multiply wives and keep their
property after divorce and which have already been contested by daughters
of current and previous prime ministers.

Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews) ? Non-Muslims in Malaysia who criticize Islam risk
imprisonment or heavy fines through enforcement of the country?s
anti-sedition law. This warning was announced by Justice Minister Mohamed
Nazri Abdul Aziz, and is part of a statement made yesterday to The Star
newspaper, in reply to various articles which appeared in national media on
new family legislation and which were ?perceived as attacking the
religion.? Passed last year, new family legislation allows, among other
things, polygamy for Muslims and affirms the right of husbands to claim
property in case of divorce.

Critics of the new legislation include Nori, daughter, of Prime Minister
Abdullah Badawi, who spoke of ?injustice against women, in the name of
Islam,? and Marina, daughter of former p.m. Mahathir Mohamad. Minister
Aziz defended the law saying that the anti-sedition law ?can be applied in
such cases.? ?We will not think twice about using this law,? he stressed,
?against anybody who speaks against Islam." He added that he was very
concerned over articles about Islam by non-Muslims: ?There is a limit to
what can be said in a Muslim-majority country.? "I want to remind
non-Muslims to refrain from making statements on something they do not
understand,? he said. "We do not want to take away your rights but
religion is an important matter, especially to Muslims."

The Sedition Act, introduced by former British rulers, is used to curb
speech detrimental to the government, inciting racial hatred, or
questioning the rights of Malaysia's Muslim Malay majority.

Marina Mahathir criticized the climate of fear that is surrounding the
debate on Islam in Malaysia, where Muslims ?live alongside Chinese and
Indians,? stressing that it has become difficult for anyone other than
Muslim men with religious backgrounds to speak about Islam. Nori Abdullah
Badawi, quoted by Islamonline, said that ?any law, passed under the noble
name of Islam, should be consistent with our faith?s fundamental principles
of fairness, equality, freedom and most of all justice," adding that
?injustice, under different guises and names, is being done in the name of

See also
11/5/2004 INDIA - Divorce by e-mail sparks debate
09/15/2004 MALAYSIA - Federal Court dismisses Anwar's corruption appeal
08/5/2005 MALYSIA - Malaysia: Wife?s revenge triggers polygamy debate
05/29/2004 MALAYSIA - Abused maid?s story may bring protection for foreign
03/1/2006 MALAYSIA ? INDONESIA - Trafficking in women rising in North

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