Malaysian Islamic Court Jails Four for Refusing to ‘Repent’
A Malaysian Islamic court on Sunday jailed four people for three years for defying a court order to "repent" and attempting to renounce the religion, the official Bernama news agency said.
It said the Shariah High Court in the northeastern town of Kota Baru found them guilty of defying an order by the Shariah Appeals Court to repent their involvement in "deviationist teachings" in 1996.
Mohamad Ya, 55, his wife Kamariah Ali, 49, Mat Yaakub Ismail, 54, and Daud Mamat, 60, were charged under a section of Kelantan state's Islamic legislation which provides for a maximum jail term of three years as well as a fine and whipping.
Corporal punishment is not imposed on women or on men aged over 50.
Judge Abdul Rahman Abdullah said the four had committed contempt of court by defying the repent order and by attempting to renounce Islam.
"All of you have acted in contempt against the Shariah Appeals Court which gave you time to repent," he was quoted as saying. "You did not repent but said you wanted to renounce Islam.
"You've tried to escape sentence. Why from the beginning you didn't declare that you are renouncing Islam? You have cheated," he said.
Abdul Rahman said the court was not being cruel in sending them to jail but instead wanted them to learn and repent.
No information was available about the alleged deviationist teachings.
Courts which deal with breaches of the Islamic code by Muslims operate alongside civil courts in much of Malaysia.
Prosecutor Abu Bakar Abdullah Khutty said deviationist teachings could cause chaos if left unchecked.
"Idolizing certain leaders whose background are not known can lead to obsession to the leader and followers will do anything as instructed," he said.
Abu Bakar urged Muslims to learn from deviationist teachings overseas which had caused followers to set themselves ablaze and drink poison.
The four were earlier charged with a separate offence of attempting to renounce Islam during their court appearance earlier this month.
The judge adjourned the hearing to a date to be fixed after they claimed trial. Bernama said they would be sent to an Islamic Guidance Center for three years if convicted -- KUALA LUMPUR (AFP)
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