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Beer-drinking Muslim woman’s caning to go ahead October 5, 2009

Posted by reader111 in Islam.
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Associated Press, Kuala Lumpur, September 29, 2009

A Muslim woman sentenced to be caned for drinking beer wants to quickly get the punishment over with now that it has been confirmed by an Islamic appeals court judge, her father said on Tuesday.

If the punishment is carried out, Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, a 32-year-old mother of two, would become the first Muslim woman to be caned in Malaysia, where about 60 per cent of the 28 million people are Muslims.

The case has ignited a debate in this moderate Muslim-majority country whether conservative Islamists, who advocate harsh punishments, are gaining influence over the justice system and whether Islamic laws should intrude into people’s private lives. According to local media reports Monday, chief Judge Abdul Hamid Abdul Rahman of Pahang state’s Shariah courts decided to uphold the sentence passed by the state high court on Kartika after a one-month review of the case.

No date was immediately set for the caning. Kartika’s father, Shukarno Abdul Muttlib, 60, told The Associated Press that while the family had yet to be informed of the judge’s latest decision, his daughter “accepts the punishment” and would like it to be carried out sooner rather than later. “We obey the law,” he said, adding that “it’s a challenge … (but) it’s the way of my life.”

Pahang court and religious department officials declined to talk about the case Tuesday. Others could not immediately be reached.

Kartika, a former model and nurse, was sentenced in July to six strokes of the cane and a fine of 5,000 ringgit ($1,400) for drinking beer in December 2007 at a beach resort in violation of Islamic laws.

Islam prohibits Muslims from drinking alcohol. Kartika, who pleaded guilty, refused to appeal her sentence and was on the verge of being caned on August 24. But the punishment was halted at the last minute following an uproar in the media and among rights activists.

Instead, the government asked the Shariah High Court Appeals Panel in Kuantan, the capital of Pahang, to review the verdict. Judge Abdul Hamid, who headed the panel, ruled that the sentence was correct and should stay.

The caning would be done with a thin stick on the back and would be largely symbolic rather than aimed at causing pain, unlike the caning of rapists and drug smugglers with a thick rattan stick on bare buttocks that causes the skin to break and leave scars. Malaysia follows a dual-track justice system. Shariah laws apply to Muslims in all personal matters. Non-Muslims, Chinese, Indians, Sikhs and other minorities are covered by civil laws, and are free to drink.

Only three states in Malaysia — Pahang, Perlis and Kelantan — impose caning for drinking alcohol. In the other 10 states it is punishable by a fine.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print/459155.aspx

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Malaysia Muslims protest proposed Hindu temple September 6, 2009

Posted by reader111 in Hindu Rights Register.
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By VIJAY JOSHI (AP) – Aug 28, 2009 

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Dozens of Malaysian Muslims paraded Friday with the head of a cow, a sacred animal in Hinduism, in a dramatic protest against the proposed construction of a Hindu temple in their neighborhood. 

The unusual protest by some 50 people in Shah Alam, the capital of Selangor state, raises new fears of racial tensions in this multiethnic Muslim-majority country where Hindus comprise about 7 percent of the 27 million population. 

The demonstrators who marched from a nearby mosque after Friday prayers dumped the cow head outside the gates of the state government headquarters. Selangor adjoins Kuala Lumpur. 

Protesters stomped on the head and spat on it before leaving the site, Xavier Jeyakumar, a state government official in charge of non-Muslim affairs, told The Associated Press. 

“This is a sign of disrespect, insensitivity and a huge insult to the Indian community,” he said. 

Such an overt display of religious discord is almost unheard of in Malaysia, which has carefully nurtured racial harmony among its three main ethnic groups, Malay Muslims, Chinese and Indians, since 1969 when the country suffered its worst racial riots. 

The demonstrators said their neighborhood, Section 23, has a 90 percent Muslim population and building a Hindu temple there was inappropriate. 

“If there is blood you (the government) will be responsible,” Malaysiakini, an independent news Web site, quoted a protest leader Ibrahim Haji Sabri as saying. 

“I challenge (Selangor government leaders) to go on with the temple construction. I guarantee bloodshed and racial tension,” Ibrahim said amid chants of “Allahu Akbar,” or God is great, the Malaysian Insider, another news Web site, reported. 

Both sites posted pictures of the protest showing a bloodied cow head. 

Muslim Malays and the Chinese and Indians — who are Christian, Hindu, Sikh and Muslim — have generally been careful about not offending each others’ religions. 

But racial tensions have risen in recent years amid complaints by the minorities that their rights are being eroded along with the rising influence of Islamic hard-liners. 

Human Resource Minister S. Subramaniam said the incident infuriated Prime Minister Najib Razak, who asked the national police chief to investigate. Witnesses said police stood by and did nothing to stop the protest. 

The demonstration, which occurred days before Malaysia celebrates its independence day on Monday, comes amid a new campaign by Najib to promote national integration by emphasizing equality of all races. 

“The prime minister said he was very upset over the incident and wants it to be nipped in the bud,” Subramaniam said in a statement. 

The protesters condemned Chief Minister Khalid Ibrahim of Selangor, one of four states controlled by a three-party opposition coalition that includes an Islamic party. The demonstrators described Khalid, a Muslim, as a traitor to Islam. It was not immediately clear if they were affiliated to any political group. 

The Malaysian Insider quoted a protest leader, Mohammad Zurit Bin Ramli, as saying a temple would disturb Muslim practices. 

“The temple will disrupt our daily activities like prayers. We cannot concentrate with the sounds coming from the temple,” he said. 

Associated Press writer Sean Yoong contributed to this report. 

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. 

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