Christians in Malaysia are alarmed over a proposed bill that would expand the jurisdiction of Sharia law within the country. The proposed bill would remove all limits on punishments for hudud crimes by the Islamic courts. The Malaysian constitution states that criminal punishment should be a matter of federal legislation. Enhancing the power of Sharia law in Malaysian courts could contradict the constitution and increase persecution for religious minorities including Christians.
10/18/2016 Malaysia (Herald Malaysia Online) – Christian leaders of all denominations slammed a bill that would increase punishments for hudud crimes by the Islamic courts in accordance to Sharia (Islamic law).
The Council of Churches of Malaysia (CCM), which includes Anglicans, Methodists, Lutherans and Protestants, appealed to lawmakers in an open letter released last Saturday to reject the draft proposal.
Hudud crimes cover include robbery, apostasy, sexual crimes, drinking alcohol, and gambling. The bill before parliament would change the Sharia Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act (Act 335) of 1965, which regulates the jurisdiction of Islamic courts.
At present, these courts – which have jurisdiction only over Muslims, especially in family matters and inheritance – can impose prison terms of up to three years, corporal punishment (up to six lashes), and fines of up to 5,000 ringgits (US$ 1,200).
Under the proposed changes, all restrictions would be lifted in the case of hudud crimes, with the exception of those involving capital punishment. In addition, lawmakers would be able to decide new punishable crimes under Sharia.