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G25 To Set Up Syariah Council

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KUALA LUMPUR: The G25 group of eminent Malays is planning to set up a consultative council to examine Syariah laws that they feel are in conflict with the Federal Constitution.

Its spokesperson Datuk Noor Farida Ariffin said the consultative council would look at the Syariah laws, and recommend repeal or amendment where there had been trespasses of the Constitution and those that intrude into people’s private spheres.

“You cannot intrude into a person’s private sphere,” said Noor Farida.

She added that there were pro­blems with the Syariah Criminal Enactments, the state Syariah Criminal Offences Enactments as well as the one used in the Federal Territory.

“We need to look at them, especially those which have violated the Federal Constitution,” Noor Farida told a press conference after the close of the G25-organised Islam in a Constitutional Democracy forum here yesterday.

She cited the khalwat (close proxi­mity) laws as examples, adding that Malaysia was the only Muslim country with such laws.

“We are saying this is against Islam. You cannot knock on someone’s door at 3am and go into their bedroom and arrest them,” said Noor Farida.

Speaking further about the consultative council, Noor Farida said that non-Muslims would also be included, as they were also affected by such laws, such as the tussle over bodies or the unilateral conversion of children to Islam in a marriage.

“A spouse converts to Islam, and then the Syariah Court dissolves the marriage. This is something they cannot do because the marriage was solemnised under the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 which is a civil law. And then the non-converting spouse has no remedy,” said Noor Farida.

Also present at the press confe­rence was foreign policy study group deputy chairman Datuk Red­zuan Kushairi, who said that the proposed consultative council would involve more than just G25.

“It has to be a mass movement by a big group of civil society organisations. We have to talk to the various authorities. At the end of the day, it has to come under the umbrella of a state organisation. This is something that will be discussed with civil society,” he said.

Redzuan added that G25 would like to get more youth groups and women’s groups involved in the planning of the council.

“The main objective of the consultative council will be to do a detailed study of Syariah and civil law and to look into the areas where Syariah law has gone beyond the boundaries laid down under the Federal Constitution, to put things right,” he added.

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