KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 6 ― Islam is not a ruthless religion that delights in humiliation, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today following global outrage over the caning of two women in Terengganu Monday.
The prime minister said his Cabinet is of the view that the punishment meted out by the state Shariah Court on the two women for a first time offence had tarnished the religion and called for consideration for lighter sentences to be given in future to prevent a repeat of the case.
“That is why we are of the opinion that even if there are such cases, consideration should be give to the circumstances, in Islam we can give lighter sentences while advising and such.
"What’s important is to show that Islam is not a ruthless religion that dishes out sentences that humiliate people. This is not what Islam encourages,” he said in a statement posted in Malay on his official Facebook page today.
He added that the government must be careful not to show Islam is without mercy and being uncompromising on penitents
He said the Cabinet made its stand in a meeting yesterday.
A 1.35-minute video of the prime minister speaking on the matter was also included.
This is the first time the Cabinet has weighed in on the thorny subject that saw widespread condemnation over the punishment of the two young Muslim women who were found guilty of attempted lesbian sex and dealt six lashes of the rotan each as 100 people watched at the Terenggau Shariah Court.
Amnesty International had criticised the caning as a black day for human rights in Malaysia, while others called the punishment “barbaric” and a “torture”. An actor on popular US sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine called for a boycott of Malaysian products.
The Malaysian Bar called for the end of such corporal punishment.
At the same time, the Barisan Nasional-led Pahang and PAS-led Kelantan state governments have said they are considering caning as punishment for Shariah offences.