KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 19 — Malaysia’s umbrella Christian body warned today that the Islamic penal code will turn followers of other faiths into “second-class citizens” if enforced, because the testimonies of non-Muslims will be deemed to be inferior compared to Muslims.
Dr Patricia Martinez of the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) said the concept of non-Muslims as “dhimmi” infidels — a historic status of non-Muslim citizens in an Islamic state — has long been retired during the Ottoman Empire but has now been revived slowly.
“You might say that it is none of our business, but we’re stakeholders too. The testimony of people of other faiths, we have got less value in our testimony in hudud,” said the CFM executive council member, referring to the Islamic penal code.
“This doesn’t go with our modern state’s Constitution and the issues on fundamental rights,” she added in the Liberalism Conference held by think-tank Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS).
In May, CFM openly expressed its concern over PAS’ plan to enforce hudud in Kelantan, warning that a dual criminal justice system could lead to a miscarriage of justice for both Muslims and non-Muslims.
Although the Kelantan government has insisted that hudud will only affect Muslims, the umbrella body representing churches nationwide said in cases involving non-Muslims, punishments under the Islamic penal code would come in conflict with those permitted by civil criminal law.
Last week, PAS said it has yet to decide whether to proceed with tabling its Private Member’s Bill on hudud in the coming Parliament session as the matter will depend on the outcome of the injunction petition against the Islamic penal code filed earlier this year by a group of “concerned citizens”.
Party secretary-general Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan said that in order to have the Bill included in Parliament’s order papers, the party would have to resubmit its motion for a third time ahead of October’s Dewan Rakyat session.