Imagine if Australian women were flogged for drinking a beer

Virginia Haussegger; 1/3/10

If my women friends lived in Malaysia, and we happened to be Muslim, we’d – with a few exceptions – be badly battered and bruised. Our bodies would be red raw from constant thrashing. I wonder if we’d wear those lashing marks with pride. Or would the pain and humiliation of official caning eventually break our spirit, and reduce us to a pitiful submission? The humiliation certainly got to 32-year-old Kartika Shukarno. Last year when the former model and mother of two was sentenced to a flogging for the crime of drinking a beer in a nightclub, she asked them to get on with it. As the judge in the Syariah High Court read out her sentence – six strokes of the rotan and a three-year jail term or hefty fine – he explained that the caning would make the accused ”repent and serves as a lesson to Muslims”. Kartika bowed her head, kept calm, and after withdrawing her appeal said, ”I will accept this earthly punishment, let Allah decide my punishment in the hereafter”.


Malaysia – Caning the messenger?; Teymoor Nabili; 27/2/10
The managing editor of a leading Malaysian newspaper has received a threatenig letter from the government over an an editorial his newspaper published criticing the decision to cane three women for adultery. The government of Malaysia has sent a threatening legal letter to The Star newspaper, after its managing editor, P Gunasegaram, spoke out against the decision to cane three women for adultery. In an editorial titled “Persuasion, not compulsion”, Gunasegaram questioned whether the sentence imposed on the women was approriate to their offence, and expressed concern about the situation in Malaysia if the interpretation of shariah law in the country approaches the situation in other nations.
We don’t want public flogging, we don’t want arms chopped off, we don’t want people to be stoned to death, and we don’t want people to be burned at the stake. The letter from the Home Ministry to The Star did not specify what exactly it objected to in Gunasegaram’s article; the “show-cause” notice only demands the paper now give a good reason why the government should not take action against it.
In Malaysia, “action” against newspapers means there’s a good chance that its publishing licence may not be renewed.The licenses are reviewed annually, and revocation is a constant worry in a country where media are closely monitored. The Star has immediately issued an apology,  saying We would like to categorically state that there was no intention to insult or offend Muslims.
The fact remains that a number of Muslims did take offence, and complained.  The article in question has now been taken down from the Star’s website. Since Gunasegaram is not a Muslim, The Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais) has decreed that he is not allowed to express these opinions, even if they do address matters of internal politics germain to his personal rights as a citizen of Malaysia.
Mais secretary Mohamed Khusrin Munawi said: those who were not well-versed with the shariah criminal law, had no rights and not qualified to question a law governing Muslims.
There are others within the country who argue that a free media, and thoughtful debate on matters relevant to the whole population, are essential elements of a successful nation.
For people who want to make up their own mind about the issue, the text is still available here, but here’s a clear warning, this article has already been deemed unacceptable by some Muslims. Those who agree with Mais – that non-Muslims should not comment on matters pertaining to shariah law – are strongly advised not to follow the link.