Man is publicly caned (photo: Islam Watch)
A Sharia High Court has sentenced a man and a woman to caning for drinking beer.
Malaysians Mohamad Nasir Mohamad, a 38-year-old father of four, and 22-year-old waitress Noorazah Baharuddin, were each discovered last year consuming beer in Pahang bars.
Part-time model Sari Dewi Shukarno, a 32-year-old resident of Singapore, faces similar accusations, according to the New Straits Times.
Pahang’s Sharia High Court fined Mohamad and Baharuddin each $1,400 and ordered that they be publicly whipped for their crimes.
“The caning is to shame them and should be done at any of the prisons in the country,” judge Abdul Rahman Yunus told the Times.
The punishment is intended to deter others from consuming alcohol, he said. The judge also sentenced two Muslim brothers to six cane strokes in 2005 after they drank alcohol. The brothers are still appealing his decision.
Alcohol is widely available in the Muslim country, and the Quran calls indulgence in alcohol and gambling a “great sin.” But lawyer Pawancheek Merican, a Shariah law committee member of the Malaysian Bar Council, told Agency France Press canings for consumption are unusual.
“It’s rare but it’s within the law and Muslims are subject to such law in this country,” he said.
Salahuddin Ayub, a lawmaker and youth chief of the opposition Islamic party PAS told AFP the court was right to order the caning.
“The ruling only concerns Muslims and it does not affect the non-Muslims. It is to remind the Muslims not to drink,” he said.
Offenders are whipped with a long strip of rattan that cuts into the skin and leaves permanent scars to remind them of their punishment.
Iran sentenced three men to a similar punishment after they were accused of engaging in extra-marital sex and drinking in 2001. A Nigerian Shariah court ordered one man to receive 80 strokes after he was caught drinking in 2005. Likewise, 15 men were caned in Indonesia for gambling.
“[U]nder the sharia law, the caning is more to teach and bring shame to the person rather than to inflict pain,” lawyer Pawancheek told AFP.
According to the New Straits Times, the cane will be 1.22m long and 1.25cm thick. Mohamad and Baharuddin will be allowed to face their punishment wearing clothing.