05/02/2022 Malaysia (International Christian Concern) – On April 25, Malaysian lawmaker Maria Chin Abdullah was sentenced to seven days in jail for allegedly insulting the Shariah judicial system.
Shariah judge Mohamed Fouzi Mokhtar sentenced her over her statement that was found to “belittle, demean, and insult” the Islamic judicial system.
Ms. Abdullah, a member of the Malaysian parliament, released a statement on September 5, 2019, pointing out that Muslim women in Malaysia are still being discriminated against under the Shariah judicial system here.
The statement was in response to a case initiated by prominent businessman Datuk SM Faisal SM Nasimuddin and the latter’s ex-wife Emilia Hanafi.
On April 28, three days after the sentencing, a group of her fellow MPs said they were concerned about the precedent being set by the Shariah courts. They said, “We will stand by Maria to exercise her right of freedom of expression in raising matters of clear public interest albeit critical of the Shariah judicial system just as we would even if the civil system was the subject matter.”
The Shariah court system is one of the two separate systems of courts which exist in the Malaysian legal system. Shariah courts have jurisdiction only over Muslims concerning family law and religious observances. In addition, they are restricted on the severity of sentences they are allowed to impose.
Founder of Komuniti Muslim Universal (KMU) Aizat Shamsuddin said the ruling was unjust as Maria was merely responding to the injustices women faced due to laws and religious interpretations that discriminated against them.
“This [sentence is intended] to censor human rights advocates and political dissent through the shariah legal system.”
He continued, “The shariah legal system should instead respond by improving the laws and staff capacity to promote gender equality and accountability, like in other Muslim-majority countries that are progressing.”
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