Malaysians Get Caning Sentence for Drinking Alcohol
Islam strictly prohibits alcohol drinking.
KUALA LUMPUR, June 15, 2005 (IslamOnline.net & News Agencies) - A Malaysian religious court has sentenced two Muslim brothers to six strokes of the cane for drinking alcohol in public, a legal first in the multicultural country, The New Straits Times reported.
The Shari`ah High Court in central Pahang state handed down the penalty on Mohamad Nizam Ibrahim, 32, and Mohamad Nasha, 30, on Tuesday, June 14, the Malaysia’s English language daily said.
The two factory workers who had been found drinking stout at a restaurant, were also fined 5,000 ringgit (1,316 dollars) each.
Judge Abdul Rahman Yunus said his ruling was intended to remind Muslims not to drink alcohol, which is forbidden by Islam.
“The excuse given by both offenders, that they are in the lower income group and therefore should not be severely punished, is unacceptable,” he said.
Lawyer Che Mastuni Muhammad, who represented the brothers, immediately asked the court to suspend the sentence pending an appeal to the Shari`ah Appeal Court.
The two, arrested last August, pleaded guilty believing they would be let off lightly, the daily said.
Under Section 136 of the Islamic Religious Administration and Pahang Malay Tradition Enactment 1982 (Amended 1987), they could have been jailed up to three years.
Some scholars believe this was the first time the penalty was ordered against someone caught drinking.
“I haven't heard of this before because in many cases before this, the judge just imposed a fine,” Abdul Bashir Mohamad, head of the Shari`ah Department at the National University of Malaysia, told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
But he said that authorities should clarify how they would put the hadd (fixed penalty) into action.
“There are no procedures in all the states for caning. They have the punishment but they don't make any clarification on how to make the action.”
Malaysia has a federal civil law system as well as state-based Shari`ah courts under which only Muslims can be tried for religious offences. The two systems operate separately.
Malay Muslims make up some 60 percent of Malaysia's 25 million population, the Chinese 25 percent and the Indians 7.5 percent.