KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 10 — PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang has rejected the perception that the recent caning of two lesbians in the Terengganu Shariah Court has tarnished Islam as a peaceful and compassionate religion.
Despite the global outcry that even prompted a response from Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the Marang MP remained resolute that the punishment was not “torture”.
“I am confident that if a fair comparison was made between Shariah caning and civil caning, non-Muslims would choose Islamic caning which educates and does not torture the offender,” the one-time Terengganu mentri besar said in a brief statement on his Facebook page last night.
The statement was accompanied by a 1.05-minute video clip portraying his answer to an unseen reporter who asked him for comment on the controversial caning issue after Dr Mahathir spoke out.
Last Thursday, the prime minister issued a statement and a video clip expressing his Cabinet’s disagreement with the September 3 caning of two Muslim women for attempted lesbian sex as meted out by the Terengganu Shariah Court.
Dr Mahathir said the six lashes of the rotan given to the women who were first time offenders while watched by 100 people had tarnished Islam by portraying it as a ruthless religion that hands out humiliating punishments.
He added that his Cabinet was of the view that the court could have advised the first time offenders and given a lighter sentence.
The caning has stirred nationwide debate, with some Muslims insisting that the corporal punishment was meant to teach a lesson and did not inflict pain that would leave physical scars, compared to whipping under civil laws.
Others argue otherwise, saying the humiliation of being caned publicly leaves emotional and mental scars, especially for an act that they insist is not listed as an offence or crime in the Quran.