PUTRAJAYA, Nov 20 — Hundreds of people, possibly over a thousand, gathered in front of the Palace of Justice court complex this morning ahead of a Federal Court hearing of a bid to challenge the constitutionality of Islamic criminal enactments in PAS-led Kelantan.
The demonstration is said to be organised by a group calling itself "Gerakan Selamatkan Syariah" — Malay for "Save Shariah Movement" — but a number of Opposition MPs and party leaders from Islamist PAS were seen among them.
Among those who addressed the crowd was PAS deputy president Datuk Seri Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man who claimed the constitutional challenge to be a threat to the state government’s right to enact Islamic laws.
“We must take our responsibility as Muslims seriously, regardless of politics, and engage in protecting and implementing the Islamic legal system. This is an integral part of practising Islam.
“The government needs to promptly amend the Constitution to maintain the integrity of the Shariah court system without interference,” he said in his speech, referring to the Federal Constitution.
The Kubang Kerian MP then declared that he will back any proposal in Parliament for these changes to the Federal Constitution, which require the approval of two-thirds majority of the Dewan Rakyat.
Parti Bumiputera Perkasa Malaysia president Ibrahim Ali, who was also present at the gathering, told the crowd that being Malay does not necessarily make a person a moral Muslim.
He claimed that Malaysian Muslims who do not stand up for Shariah law might lose their homeland, without elaborating how.
“Being Malay does not necessarily mean being fully Islamic. Many Malays are involved in immoral activities. Today, we unite to defend Shariah law.
“I pledge to make efforts to uphold Shariah law as long as I am alive. Let us not allow ourselves to cry later if we fail to defend Shariah law and we may lose our homeland,” he said.
He added that it was also the Rulers’ duty to uphold Shariah law in Malaysia.
Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin called on those present in the gathering and others nationwide to unite to protect Shariah laws, saying these laws are for the country’s future.
Referring to Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah, Hamzah claimed that the Selangor Ruler who was also chairman of the National Council of Islamic Religious Affairs had called on the government back in August to review and modify the Federal Constitution.
“Today, I appeal to the government to expedite the constitutional amendment process to make Shariah law the primary legal system,” the Larut MP from Bersatu said.
Shouts of “takbir” praising God from the rally-goers punctuated the air.
Other prominent politicians from the Perikatan Nasional coalition seen in attendance included Kelantan Menteri Besar Datuk Nassuruddin Daud and his deputy, Datuk Mohamed Fadzli Hassan who are both from PAS; and Putrajaya MP Datuk Radzi Jidin from Bersatu.
The court challenge was filed by Kelantan-born lawyer Nik Elin Zurina Nik Abdul Rashid and her daughter Tengku Yasmin Nastasha Tengku Abdul Rahman on May 25, 2022 directly at the Federal Court via Article 4(4) of the Federal Constitution, with the Kelantan state government named as respondent.
Under Article 4(4), the validity of any laws made by Parliament or a state legislature can be questioned in court, based on reasons that Parliament or a state legislature did not have powers to make those laws.
In the two women’s challenge, they argued that the Kelantan state legislative assembly did not have the powers to create those Shariah provisions in a state law, as it is the federal government instead which holds the powers under the Federal Constitution to make laws on such crimes.