Kota Bharu – Kelantan Mentri Besar Datuk Ahmad Yakob told non-Muslims not to question a by-law that fines and jails Muslim men who skip Friday prayers for three consecutive times, after a legal group shone light on the matter.
Malay-language daily Utusan Malaysia reported Ahmad saying non-Muslims should respect the PAS state government’s move to enforce the Kelantan Council of the Religion of Islam and Malay Custom Enactment 1994, pointing out that it did not involve them.
“Many parties are now trying to question Muslim rituals,” Ahmad was quoted as saying in Kota Baru, Kelantan, yesterday.
“I don’t think it needs to be raised as we’ve never criticised the practices of other religions. For example, cremation. In Islam, we can’t do that, but we still respect those religions. So I hope that everyone will respect each other’s religions,” he added.
Ahmad also reportedly said the by-law was not meant to find fault or punish, but to ensure that Muslims better perform their religious obligations.
Legal activist group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) has called the Kelantan by-law an “overkill” law that treats Muslims like “hardened criminals” placed under restricted residence.
The Kelantan by-law empowers state authorities to fine Muslim men up to RM1,000 or put them behind bars for up to a year, or both, for failing to attend Friday prayers thrice in a row.
LFL executive director Eric Paulsen said the law was unconstitutional, noting that the Federal Constitution provides citizens the right to personal liberty, equal protection of the law, freedom of movement and freedom of religion.