Charges against Kassim Ahmad should be dropped, says Sisters in Islam

Suri Kempe

PETALING JAYA: The charges against 80-year old former activist Kassim @ Osman Ahmad brought by the Federal Territory Islamic Department (Jawi) should be dropped, and are a "gross display of overzealousness and abuse of law to silence dissenting opinions," said Sisters in Islam on Thursday.

The statement, which was issued by Sisters in Islam's programme manager Suri Kempe described the treatment of Kassim as "alarming".

"It is alarming that JAWI was able to embark on a cross-border man-hunt so swiftly to arrest a frail 81-year old man whose health is failing. Kassim was arrested in Kulim, Kedah yesterday, brought down to Kuala Lumpur overnight and questioned until 3AM," said Suri.

She added Sisters in Islam also condemned the treatment by the Syariah prosecutor at the Putrajaya Syariah Court when Kassim was charged on Thursday morning with two offences under Section 7(b) of the Syariah Criminal Offences Act (Federal Territories) 1997.

If found guilty, Kassim faces a maximum RM3,000 fine, a jail sentence of up to two years or both.

"The Syari’e Prosecutor objected to bail, and wanted Dr. Kassim to remain in detention for one week," said Suri.

She added that since 1997, Sisters in Islam had pointed out that the Syariah Criminal Offences Act had "several problematic provisions that are open to arbitrary abuse of power by the religious authority."

"They violate fundamental principles of democracy and our fundamental liberties as guaranteed by the Federal Constitution," said Suri.

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