Wednesday, November 28, 2012

PAS serious about upholding religious freedom, says DAP

PAS serious about upholding religious freedom, says DAP

November 28, 2012
Malaysian Insider
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 28 — PAS’ swift response to non-Muslim concern over Kelantan’s controversial gender segregation policy at hair salons in the state reinforces the Islamist party’s moderate stance and pledge to hold freedom of religion for all, its Pakatan Rakyat (PR) partner, DAP, said today.

The secular party’s secretary-general, Lim Guan Eng, said its central executive committee (CEC) welcomed PAS’ assurances yesterday that Islamic morality by-laws enforced by the Kota Baru Municipal Council were an oversight and not meant to be used on non-Muslims and urged the PAS-led state to cancel the summonses served to prove their point.

“The DAP CEC at its CEC meeting last night considers the reaffirmation by PAS that it views seriously the concerns of non-Muslim and that implementation of laws based on Islamic principles must not be forcibly imposed on non-Muslims as a positive step that will serve to reinforce Pakatan Rakyat’s commitment towards justice for all and the moderation of PAS in upholding freedom of religion,” Lim (picture) said in a statement today.

“Unlike Umno which wants to impose Islamic laws on non-Muslims, PAS has taken a more enlightened position in wanting to apply Islamic laws only on Muslims,” he added.

The Penang chief minister highlighted that PAS has taken a moderate position in another religious row over the use of the Arabic word “Allah” by Christians to refer to their god compared to the Barisan Nasional (BN) federal coalition and its mainstay, Umno, which has been pushing for its ban.

The Catholic Church had won a landmark victory at the High Court in December 2009 to publish the disputed word in their weekly, The Herald, but remains barred from doing so pending the Home Ministry’s three-year-old appeal against the judgment at the Court of Appeal, which has yet to fix a hearing date.
Shipments of Malay-language bibles containing the word “Allah” were also seized previously and only later released after Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak intervened directly.

“The readiness of the Kelantan PAS state government to admit to an oversight is a stark contrast to the stubborn refusal by Umno to admit to mistakes made such as Umno’s revocation of funding for Sekolah Agama Rakyat after losses suffered in the 1999 general elections,” Lim said, stressing further the disparity between the two Malay rival parties.

He said it was PR that restored the money aid to the Islamic religious schools and other vernacular and mission schools, after Election 2008 when the opposition parties took power in five states and became the government in Penang, Selangor, Kedah, Perak while maintaining Kelantan.

The pact eventually lost Perak in 2009 after several state lawmakers jumped ship to swear loyalty to BN.
PAS moved yesterday to soothe the ruffled bouffants of the non-Muslim community over Kelantan’s latest move to ban unisex hair salons and segregate women hairdressers from cutting men’s hair and vice-versa.
The Islamist party’s president, Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, said it viewed seriously the objections from non-Muslims to the PAS-led state’s enforcement last week and will work to resolve the issue swiftly.
The Marang MP also said the state’s Syariah (II) Criminal Enactment 1993 had never been enforced on non-Muslims there.

Kelantan has been drawing widespread criticism after several non-Muslim hairdressers in Kota Baru highlighted last week that they were fined for the local council after being nabbed for styling the hair of male customers — reigniting fears that hudud, the strict Islamic penal law, will be enforced on all citizens and not just Muslims, should PAS succeed in taking federal power.

The state was reported by English-language daily The Star as having defended the law enforcement, saying it was in line with the state government’s Islamic policies and to safeguard women from sexual harassment in the workplace.
The hudud issue has been played up in various media outlets in recent times, with PAS reportedly adamant on implementing hudud for Muslims if PR were to assume federal power.

DAP, however, has consistently stated that hudud was incompatible with secular Malaysia.

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