LFL Press Statement
20 October 2014
Kelantan’s three-strike Friday prayer rule is unconstitutional, oppressive and unworkable
Lawyers for Liberty views with extreme concern the Kelantan government’s plan to enforce section 104 of Enakmen Majlis Agama Islam dan Adat Istiadat Melayu Kelantan 1994 that criminalises failure of Muslim men to go for Friday prayers in the local mosque three times in a row with imprisonment up to a year or fine RM1000.
The serious repercussion of such an excessive and overkill law to force what is essentially a personal matter of faith should not be underestimated, as this provision effectively places all Muslims in Kelantan under restricted residence like hardened criminals as they would have to “report” to the local mosque every Friday, failing which it may amount to a criminal offence.
The provision would be in serious breach of article 5 on liberty of the person; article 8 on equal protection of the law; article 9 on prohibition on freedom of movement; and arguably article 11 on freedom of religion.
Besides breaching fundamental freedoms as guaranteed by the Constitution, its obvious impracticality brings into question whether the Kelantan government has thought through the enforcement of such a wide-ranging provision.
What happens when the person wants to go Friday prayer in a different mosque other than the local mosque? Can he register in more than one mosque or must he register in all mosques that he attends? What happens when he goes out of Kelantan or overseas? What happens if he is ill or has other obligations? Does he have an obligation under law to inform the local mosque or all mosques he is registered to every time he is unable attend Friday prayer? Does it affect Muslims travelling to Kelantan? What about foreigner Muslims?
We therefore call upon the Kelantan government to revoke its decision to enforce section 104 of Enakmen Majlis Agama Islam dan Adat Istiadat Melayu Kelantan on the grounds that it is unconstitutional, oppressive and unworkable.
Lawyers for Liberty
20 October 2014
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