Sisters in Islam battles on to quash fatwa

PETALING JAYA: Sisters in Islam (SIS) will continue to challenge the fatwa by the Selangor Fatwa Committee declaring it a deviant organisation even after a high court dismissed its judicial review application.

Its communications manager Majidah Hashim said SIS believed in Malaysia’s justice system and in upholding the fundamental liberties enshrined in the Federal Constitution.

“SIS will firstly pursue this matter with civil laws until they are exhausted,” she said.

She said SIS’ struggle was not theirs alone but reflected the struggle of thousands of women who went up and down the courts every day in order to get justice.

“We don’t want them to give up or be silenced so we must not give up or be silenced either,” Majidah said.

On Tuesday, the Kuala Lumpur High Court dismissed SIS’ application challenging the committee’s edict that it was a deviant organisation.

The court ruled that a fatwa was the exclusive jurisdiction of the Syariah Court.

Judge Datuk Nordin Hassan said the civil court had no jurisdiction to hear the application pursuant to Article 121 (1A) of the Federal Constitution which stipulates that the civil courts do not have jurisdiction within matters pertaining to Islam and such matters should be referred to the Syariah Court.

The application was brought in by SIS founder Zainah Mahfoozah Anwar and former minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Zaid Ibrahim.

Meanwhile, civil and Syariah lawyer Nizam Bashir Abdul Kariem Bashir is confident that the fatwa can be reconsidered and removed on an expeditious basis given the tremendous work done by SIS over the years.

“We should not be disheartening the peacemakers within our society, in fact, we should be uplifting them and encouraging them for the good work they do,” he said.

Human rights lawyers organisation Lawyers For Liberty said 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.

It also said the Syariah Court had no jurisdiction over SIS, which it said was a company.

“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,” it said in a statement.
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