Muslims at mercy of religious authorities if human rights not upheld, say lawyers


(TMI) – Muslims in secular Malaysia, who are also subjected to Islamic laws, will be discriminated if a religious council’s proposition to exempt them from enjoying all fundamental rights under the Federal Constitution is allowed, lawyers said.

They said this would only leave non-Muslims to enjoy such universal human rights.

This line of argument also went against the teachings of Islam which provided that the authorities respected the faith of followers, similar to those accorded in the constitution, they added.

What was worrying, they said, was that denying the majority population such rights would have an effect on investor confidence on Malaysia and political leaders would lose all moral authority to speak up on critical issues in international forums.

Lawyer Nizam Bashir told The Malaysian Insider that if such a proposition was upheld by the Federal Court, then Muslims may find that “fundamental liberties” need not be observed by the state legislature when enacting Islamic laws.

“MAIWP’s proposition that fundamental liberties are irrelevant when enacting Islamic law appears to be unsupported by the principal source of Islamic law, the Quran,” he said, referring to the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Council.

Nizam cited some examples such as the right to privacy (Quran 24:27 and 49:12); the right to reputation (Quran 49:11); freedom of conscience (Quran 2:256 and 10:99); and presumption of innocence (Quran 17:15).

He said this in response to MAIWP, which opposes non-Muslim lawyers practising Shariah law and last week, contended in court that all Islamic enactments were excluded from fundamental liberties in the Federal Constitution.

MAIWP lawyer Mohd Hanif Khatri Abdulla said this was a new point of constitutional importance to be raised against Victoria Jayaseele Martin’s appeal in the Federal Court, where the lawyer was seeking the right to practise Islamic law in the Shariah court.

Read more here