Pressure growing for medieval Islamic religious punishment in Malaysia writes Asia Sentinel.

Malaysia appears dangerously close to instituting seventh-century religious law that would require amputation of hands or feet for theft, beheading or stoning for adultery and other crimes, and flogging for drinking or other offenses.

The issue of Islamic punishment has been kicking around for years, with little effect. But Hadi Awang, the head of Parti Islam se-Malaysia, or PAS is expected to table a private member’s bill in June when the Dewan Rakyat, or national parliament, reconvenes.

Muslims perform Friday prayers at a mosque during the holy fasting month of Ramadan in Kuala Lumpur. Pic: AP.

The bill would make Islamic law supreme in the eastern Malaysian state of Kelantan. However, the Malay-majority states of Perlis, Terengganu and Kelantan appear ready to go ahead with or without parliamentary approval, political analysts say. Other Malay-majority states along the northern tier next to Thailand could follow.

Normally, an opposition bill would have no chance of passage in Malaysia’s parliamentary system. However, according to a source within the leading United Malays National Organization, UMNO members are facing a rising tide of demand for the feudal punishment.

That isn’t to say the bill will pass. Malaysia, for all of the religious fervor stirred up by both the opposition and the government over the past decade, remains a modern state in a region where such punishments would be met with disgust. Indonesia, the biggest Islamic state in the world, remains free of this kind of primitive retribution.

“PAS has captured the imagination of Malay Muslims generally and nobody wants to appear irreligious,” the source said. “Many UMNO members will vote for it for fear of being labeled bad Muslims. They are being taunted by PAS to support the bill.”

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