Penalty for insulting religious beliefs must be fair to all, says Sadia

Musa (left) and Bill.

KUCHING, June 5: While the idea to impose stiffer penalties for insulting Islam and other religions mooted by various Muslim NGOs is applauded, it must be applicable to all.

In saying this, chairman of Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (Sadia), Bill Jugah stressed that the act of a mechanic in Sibu who insulted Islam and issued a challenge to the Sibu Muslim community was a solitary act, and was not condoned by non-Muslim communities in general.

The said mechanic was then confronted at his house on June 1 and was assaulted by a group of people because of his social media postings, which he had apologised for and deleted.

“It is disappointing to note the crumbling of harmony which the community leaders in Sibu have defended and preserved all this while.

“I advise the people to let the police handle the matter because a police report against the mechanic has been lodged, but more importantly the group of people have taken the law into their own hands.

“They can be charged with trespassing or house-breaking, causing public unrest and riot, and assault charges.

“Even if these people are from an organisation, I know that they did not act with approval from their leaders. What if other organisations reciprocate and also act in such a childish manner? This could escalate into a bloodbath and cause a huge rift in the racial and social structure of our community,” said Bill in a statement issued to DayakDaily here today.

Musa Ainnie Dhoby, the nephew of the late nationalist Rosli Dhoby reiterated the need to maintain religious and racial balance in Sarawak in keeping in line with the long-held peace and harmony enjoyed by Sarawakians since the time of our forefathers.

“We need to behave in a manner and edict of a true Muslim so that others would be attracted to Islam instead of being intimidated,” said Musa.

Meanwhile, Bill said a legislative change to address religious matters for the state was needed.

“At the same time, it needs to be fair to all. For example, the same punishment needs to be meted out to offenders regardless of which religion suffers insult.

“Also, in the case of those wishing to leave Islam, do not impose penalty or fine. As simple as the professing of the shahadah in proclaiming their faith in Islam and without paying money, so it should be likewise when they wish to leave too; without a fine or facing complicated counselling and Syariah judicial process.

“Otherwise, with their un-Islamic behaviour, they invariably would be an insult to Islam. So, let them go,” added Bill.—DayakDaily