Penang drafts state law against proselytisation to Muslims

Muslims perform ‘Tarawih’ prayers on the eve of Ramadan at the Seberang Jaya Mosque, Penang May 16, 2018. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Muslims perform ‘Tarawih’ prayers on the eve of Ramadan at the Seberang Jaya Mosque, Penang May 16, 2018. — Picture by Choo Choy May

GEORGE TOWN, Nov 7 — The Penang state government is preparing an enactment to further control and prohibit the spread of other religions to Muslims in the state, Deputy Chief Minister I Ahmad Zakiyuddin Abd Rahman (PKR - Pinang Tunggal) said today.

He said the legal technical committee secretary of the Penang Islamic Religious Council (MAINPP) proposed the enactment during a meeting on October 14.

“On principle, the committee agreed with the proposal and the state Sharia prosecution department will review the draft enactment and make improvements to it by referring to other states that has a similar enactment and are enforcing it,” he said in reply to an oral question by Nor Hafizah Othman (BN - Permatang Berangan) at the state legislative assembly.

On whether the state’s Islamic Affairs Department was taking appropriate actions against those who tried to spread other religions to Muslims, he said enforcement was as needed.

“The enforcement team from the department will cooperate with the police to investigate and monitor any activities of attempts to convert Muslims to other religions,” he said.

He said it is already an offence under Section 5 of the Penang Sharia Offences Enactment 1996 for anyone to spread non-Islamic beliefs, religions or doctrine to Muslims, with offenders to be tried in the civil courts.

Those convicted of the offence are liable to a maximum fine of RM3,000 or up to two years’ imprisonment or both.

“Since the section stresses that cases must be tried in the civil courts, enforcement actions must be conducted together with the police,” he said.

He said both the Penang Islamic Affairs Department and the police are responsible for enforcing the law against this offence.

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