Muslims push tougher sharia law as Malaysian election issue

Muslims push tougher sharia law as Malaysian election issue, by Amanda Hodge.

Malaysia’s biggest Islamic party has warned its push for more powerful sharia courts and penalties will be a key general-election issue, and politicians who refuse to support the move face a similar fate to Jakarta’s ousted Christian governor.

With elections expected to be called as early as August, the proposed Sharia Act (355) is shaping up as a wedge issue that could determine the extent of opposition party co-operation against the ruling UMNO party, which has governed Malaysia since independence, and the political fortunes of its leader Najib Razak.

The Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) is pushing for a ­nationwide extension of the ­sharia courts’ powers, and for an increase in the maximum penalties, raising fears of a growing ­climate of religious conservatism — just as the bruising Jakarta election has in Indonesia. …

In a 2014 survey by pollsters Merdeka Centre, 71 per cent of Malay-Muslims supported the bill’s push for harsher sharia penalties. Malay Muslims make up about 60 per cent of voters. ­Another 23 per cent are ethnic Chinese and 7 per cent Indian.

Australia might have two neighbors with Sharia law before too long.

hat-tip Stephen Neil