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The Star: SIS: Amending Syariah law bad for Islam’s image (27th November 2016)
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PETALING JAYA: The proposal to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 can potentially lead to more injustices in the long run and paint a bad image of Islam as a punitive religion, says Sisters in Islam (SIS).

Calling for an explanation to the public on the rationale behind the leap in expanding punishment from the present limit to the proposed limit, SIS said questions arose on how the Syariah courts would decide on the proportionality of punishment to be given out under the existing Syariah Criminal Offences Enactment (SCOE) of each state.

“Will the punishment be the same or will it differ from state to state?” it said in a statement yesterday.

SIS pointed out that under the existing Syariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act 1997 (SCOA), there are over 40 offences ranging from possession of religious publications contrary to Islamic law to khalwat (close proximity), both of which carry the maximum sentence of two years’ jail or RM3,000 fine, or both.

“The existing SCOE of each state has been implemented in a discriminatory fashion, often targeting minority groups of society and groups of a lower income,” it added.

It said bulldozing a law through Parliament would not solve the present inconsistencies and conflict of jurisdiction between civil and Syariah courts.

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