Nancy: Religious affairs minister to meet Terengganu Sultan over latest Shariah amendments

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 7 — Woman, Family, and Community Development Minister Nancy Shukri said today that Religious Affairs Minister Mohd Na’im Mokhtar will meet the Terengganu Sultan to discuss the state’s recently controversial Shariah law amendments.

Malaysiakini reported her saying yesterday that the matter was discussed in the Cabinet meeting as it affects Muslims, especially teenagers.

“Since religious matters are under the jurisdiction of the state government, the minister in charge of religious affairs has been asked to have a royal audience with Terengganu ruler,” she was reported saying, referring to Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin.

“I have to find out further before I can comment on this, not today,” she added.

Nancy said she will bring up the matter again in today’s Cabinet meeting and her ministry will issue a statement tomorrow.

On December 1, the Terengganu government passed four new sections under the Shariah Criminal Offences (Takzir) (Terengganu) Enactment 2001, outlawing witchcraft and shamanism, “females posing as males”, females conceiving or giving birth to a child out of wedlock, and sodomy.

Section 29A states that Muslim women deemed guilty of out-of-wedlock pregnancy and childbirth will be liable for a fine not exceeding RM3,000, imprisonment up to two years, or both.

The same section states that men who are found guilty of causing a pregnancy out of wedlock can be sentenced with the same punishment.

The new provisions can be implemented once they receive the assent of the Malay Ruler.

Last week, Sisters in Islam and Justice for Sisters called on the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) to conduct a human rights impact assessment of the recent amendments.

It stressed that as a party to the global Convention on Elimination All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Convention on Rights of the Child, Malaysia holds the obligation to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women and children.

The women’s groups also lamented that the criminalisation of out-of-wedlock pregnancies as it not only causes unnecessary trauma, but also burdens and shames survivors of sexual assault and others.

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