Intervene to resolve SIS 'deviant' fatwa case, LFL tells Mujahid
Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) said it is extremely concerned by the dismissal at the Kuala Lumpur High Court of Sisters in Islam (SIS)’s judicial review application against a 2014 Selangor fatwa declaring it as "deviant".
"The fatwa had made a sweeping declaration that SIS and 'any individuals, organisations and institutions holding on to liberalism and religious pluralism' are deviant from Islamic teachings," said LFL legal coordinator Zaid Malek in a statement today.
Yesterday, Justice Nordin Hassan had ruled that the Selangor fatwa committee has complied with all procedures when it issued the fatwa against SIS and dismissed the judicial review application with costs of RM10,000,
LFL highlighted that the fatwa had further instructed the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to block any websites that go against Islamic teachings and Islamic law.
"The High Court not only declared that the civil court has no jurisdiction to hear the challenge on the fatwa, but further ruled that SIS should not be immune from having the fatwa applied on it and that justice in this regard warrants the lifting of the corporate veil," said Zaid.
He said LFL strongly urges the Minister in charge of Islamic Affairs Mujahid Yusof Rawa (above) to look into this matter and resolve it as soon as possible.
"SIS has been targeted by religious authorities despite its decades of human rights and advocacy work focusing on women’s rights in Islam," said Zaid.
He cited the example of its free legal clinic, Telenisa, which has provided non-judgmental assistance to about 10,000 women and men on their legal rights under the Islamic family law and syariah laws.
"In addition, SIS has continuously championed hard issues such as ending child marriages, gender-based violence, female gender mutilation (FGM) and promoting gender equality and non-discrimination."
Zaid called the court's decision "disturbing" for three reasons.
"Firstly, it has been held by the Federal Court that under Article 121(1) of the Federal Constitution, judicial power is vested exclusively in the civil High Courts and their jurisdiction and powers are not confined to federal law.
"Secondly the syariah courts have no jurisdiction over SIS which is a company.
"Thirdly, the corporate veil can only be lifted in instances of fraud, which is not justified in this case and have troubling ramifications on corporate entities in Malaysia.
"As with any human rights defenders, SIS plays an important role in the promotion and protection of human rights for all.
"It is not for any religious authorities to declare them as deviants," said Zaid.
He also called on the authorities to protect all human rights defenders and organisations and ensure that they can work in a safe, supportive environment free from attacks, reprisals and unreasonable restrictions.