The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) is deeply concerned over a lawsuit filed against Sisters in Islam (SIS), a group of women human rights defenders advocating for women’s rights in Malaysia. We received information that on 22 March 2010, the Malaysian Assembly of Mosque Youths (MAMY) filed a lawsuit against SIS through its lawyer, Mr. Sahlan Saruddin. The MAMY is questioning the use of the word “Islam” in the website and publications of SIS. It claims that “Islam” is a word controlled and limited by the Registrar of Companies and can only be used after obtaining permission from the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM) and related government agencies which deal with Islamic affairs. The MAMY also claims that SIS only uses the word “Islam” to attract people’s attention and its use of this word causes confusion to the public. The letter to Prime Minister’s Office is attached.

In a Press Statement issued by Sisters in Islam (SIS), the Malaysian women's group, one of the most well-known nongovernment groups in this Muslim-majority country, registered their happiness with the decision by Sultan of Pahang, Duli Yang Maha Mulia Tuanku Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah, to commute Kartika’s caning sentence to community service. According to Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno's father, Kartika received a letter dated March 26 from the Pahang state Islamic and Malay Culture Council on Wednesday, informing her the Pahang Sultan had decided to spare her the caning. Kartika, a former part-time model, was sentenced in July last year to six strokes of the cane and a fine RM5,000 for drinking beer in December 2007 at a beach resort, in violation of 'Sharia' laws. Meanwhile, The Malaysian Assembly of Mosque Youth (MAMY) is seeking an order from the High Court to prevent SIS Forum (Malaysia) from using “Sisters In Islam” as its name and identity because of its criticism of the application of these laws.

Un tribunal islamique en Malaisie a décidé d'annuler la peine prononcée à l'encontre d'une musulmane, reconnue coupable d'avoir bu de la bière et condamnée à être fouettée, a expliqué jeudi à l'Associated Press l'avocat de la jeune femme, Adham Jamalullail, qui dit avoir reçu une lettre du sultanat de Pahang (est).

A Malaysian woman sentenced to be caned for drinking beer has had her punishment commuted. Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno had pleaded guilty to the offence under Malaysia's Islamic law and was to have received six strokes of a rattan cane. But her family said religious officials had overturned the ruling, ordering her to carry out community service instead. Ms Kartika's original sentence, which had been delayed several times, had provoked fierce debate. While drinking alcohol is forbidden for Muslims, prosecutions are rare. Update on Malaysia: Revision of Kartika’s Case Turned Down by Registrar of Syariah Courts

Muslim activists filed a lawsuit Monday against a Malaysian women's group, asking it to remove the word "Islam" from its name on the ground that it misleads people to believe it speaks for all Muslims. The suit against Sisters in Islam, one of the most well-known nongovernment groups in this Muslim-majority country, comes after it angered conservative Muslims by criticizing Islamic Shariah laws that allow the caning of women for offenses such as drinking alcohol. Update on Malaysia: Intimidation of Sisters in Islam: Silencing Alternative Viewpoints

Malaysia's religion minister on Tuesday defended Islamic laws that allow girls under 16 to marry, amid a controversy over two youngsters who were married off to middle-aged men. The issue has flared in Malaysia after reports that two girls aged 10 and 11 were wed in the conservative northern state of Kelantan last month. They have now been removed from their husbands. Rights groups have called for the reform of Islamic laws that allow marriage under the age of 16 if religious officials give their consent. Sharia law runs in parallel with civil law in multi-ethnic Malaysia.

On February 18, the Malaysian Home Minister announced the whipping of three Muslim women for illicit sex. This came as a shock to many Malaysians as several conflicting issues raised over the whipping sentence of Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno for drinking alcohol in public have not yet been resolved. Following this, Sisters in Islam (SIS) and its partners in the Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) issued a statement in protest against the whipping, maintaining that we believe it is unjust, inhumane and unconstitutional. Please see attached for full statement. Update on Malaysia: Harassment of Sisters in Islam for questioning 'Syariah' caning of 3 women

The Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais) has lodged police reports against The Star managing editor P. Gunasegaran and Sisters in Islam (SIS) for questioning the syariah whipping against three Muslim women for engaging in illicit sex. Mais secretary Datuk Mohamed Khusrin Munawi said an article written by Gunasegaran had denigrated Islam and the Syariah law.

Sisters in Islam (SIS) is shocked that the Prisons Department has caned three Muslim women for shariah offences. Given that several issues on shariah and constitutional grounds, sentencing guidelines and Malaysia’s commitments to international human rights instruments that were raised on the Kartika case remain unresolved, we question the government's motive in proceeding with the caning of Muslim women.

Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim failed in his bid to get a stay of his sodomy trial and the hearing proper is now set to begin on Wednesday. In rejecting the stay application on Tuesday, High Court judge Justice Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah said there were no special circumstances to warrant a stay of the sodomy trial. “I find that there is no special circumstances in the law of proceedings (shown by Anwar) to grant a stay. The trial will proceed,” he said in his ruling in a packed courtroom.

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