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I recall the tourism ads from Malaysia, “Malaysia, Truly Asia”. The beauty of the land in the ads was truly breathtaking. But does land, mountains, or rivers make a nation? Or is a nation made by its people? A nation without people to work for its progress is like a kiln without fire. But even if it had people, does that still guarantee progress? What if the people were stuck with a mindset, with an ideology which is neither progressive nor from Asia?

What raised these questions was a news report in Times of India, on a woman being sentenced, by a sharia (Islamic law) court, to be canned for drinking beer [1].

Following are some excerpts.

A judge in Malaysia has upheld a court verdict to cane a Muslim woman for drinking beer, news reports said on Monday, re-igniting a controversy over Islamic justice in this moderate Muslim-majority country.

The Star newspaper’s website and national news agency Bernama said the chief Shariah judge of Pahang state ruled that a Shariah High Court’s verdict against Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, 32, was correct and should stay.

Kartika, a former model and nurse, was sentenced in July to six strokes of the cane and a fine of 5,000 ringgit ($1,400) for drinking beer in December 2007 at a beach resort in violation of Islamic laws.

“I found that the High Court Judge had acted accordingly within his jurisdiction as provided” by relevant laws of Pahang state, Pahang Shariah Chief Judge Abdul Hamid Abdul Rahman told The Star.

“As such, the decision stays,” he was quoted as saying. He said it was now up to the Pahang Islamic Religious Department to implement the punishment.

Malaysia along with the rest of SE Asia was once Hindu-Buddhist. In fact as the name of the lady-to-be-canned reveals, (notice the “Dewi”) her ancestors were probably once Hindu or Buddhists, forced to convert under duress.

This “verdict” by the sharia court is quite consonant with Islamic jurisprudence. Even in this 21st century, Islamic countries follow such despicable laws justifying them as divine decrees. Unfortunately, forceful conversion of native populace by foreign conquerors, aided by economic (Jizya) and military (Jihad) persecution, has resulted in export of such medieval, theocratic laws from the 7th century Arabian desert. Until such an abhorrent, despicable ideology is consigned to the ashes of time, Malaysia can never be truly Asia.




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