Culture Wars – Anti-Liberal Fatwa Challenged
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Sisters in Islam, an NGO working on women’s rights, has filed a judicial review on a gazetted fatwa in Selangor declaring it as subscribing to “religious liberalism and pluralism”. The organization is challenging the fatwa on Constitutional grounds: including that “it trespasses federal powers as only Parliament has the legislative authority to make laws restricting fundamental liberties” and that the religious authority in question “has no authority to direct federal institutions like the Ministry of Home Affairs to ban and seize books and MCMC to block social media sites”. While globally fatwas are understood as advice or opinion, in Malaysia they have the force of law. In a clarification issued after the interview, our guest notes that the law that makes going against a fatwa a criminal act has in fact been used eg. in the arrest of beauty pageant contestants in July 2013.
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