1988 state law allows Jais to act against non-Muslims


By Clara Chooi and Debra Chong, The Malaysian Insider

The Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) had likely acted within the law when it raided a church here, as a controversial enactment passed by a Barisan Nasional (BN) state government in 1988 allows action against non-Muslims.

Malaysian Bar Council chief Lim Chee Wee pointed out, however, their being empowered also meant the religious authorities can only act within the confines of the Islamic laws, highlighting that the words allegedly said to prove Christians were proselytising to Muslims at the event — “Quran” and “Pray” — did not fall within the religious enforcement’s context.

“Whilst Jais may have the legal power to enter the premises, it must do so on a proper legal basis that there has been an offence committed. From the presently available facts, there is no basis for its intrusion,” he told The Malaysian Insider in an email.

Lim said there were four existing state Islamic legislation that give the authorities wide powers to act on religious matters, namely:

•  Enakmen Jenayah Syariah (Selangor) 1995 (“Enakmen Jenayah”);

•  Enakmen Ugama Bukan Islam (Kawalan Pengembangan di Kalangan Orang Islam) 1988 (“Enakmen Ugama Bukan Islam”);

•  Administration of the Religion of Islam (State of Selangor) Enactment 2003; and

•  Syariah Criminal Procedure (State of Selangor) Enactment 2003.

Selangor’s Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Amongst Muslims) Enactment, which outlines offences deemed as acts of proselytisation by non-Muslims towards Muslims, grants the religious authorities powers to launch investigations and arrest individuals without producing a warrant.

Some offences include the persuasion or incitement of Muslims to convert, to receive instructions or to participate in any activity for the benefit of any non-Islamic religion; if non-Muslims communicate with a Muslim for the purpose of subjecting the latter to any speech on a non-Islamic religion; if a person uses certain prohibited words to describe any belief pertaining to any non-Islamic religion, and others.

The Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC) was raided by Jais on Wednesday after it received a complaint that Muslims were present at a dinner function there, leading to suspicion that Christians were attempting to proselytise Muslims.

Section 11 of the enactment also describes the offences as “seizable offences”, which, under the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), does not stop the police from raiding private spaces, like DUMC’s rented premises here.