Prime Minister Mahathir says caning of lesbian women sentence ‘tarnished’ Islam

Jacqueline Raposo

After collective horror brought the case of two women sentenced to a public caning to national and international headlines over the last few days, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has finally issued a measured statement on the matter.

Declaring in a Facebook video that Islam is not a ruthless religion that seeks to humiliate its followers, he went further and said that the harsh sentence issued to the two women tarnished the religion. In future cases, he called for lighter sentences, so as to avoid a repetition of the abhorrent sentence.

Instead, “we can give lighter sentences, while advising and such,” he told the public.

“What’s important is to show that Islam is not a ruthless religion that dishes out sentences that humiliate people. This is not what Islam encourages,” he said in the clip.

Public outcry was far and wide, after two women caught “attempting lesbian sex” in Terengganu were sentenced in Sharia court to six strokes of the cane, and a fine for their action. Members of the public gathered in the gallery to witness the event, while a media circus awaited them in the Sharia court complex.

Coconuts KL wrote an extensive op-ed on the matter, expressing the disappointment that the current Pakatan Harapan government was doing little to fulfill their pledge in maintaining a clean human rights record for Malaysia, as they had promised in their election manifesto. Amnesty International called the event “a black day for human rights in Malaysia.”

PM Mahathir’s statement is welcome, and we hope that other governments and courts will heed our leader’s advice to show compassion, love and mercy.

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