08/24/2009, 00.00
MALAYSIA
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Caning of women suspended as act of "mercy" for Ramadan

The woman had been sentenced to six lashes for having drunk beer in a nightclub. The sentence will be carried out at the end of the holy month of fasting and prayer. Malaysian majority and opposition keep silent on the matter so as not to lose the support of fundamentalist wing.

Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Malaysian authorities have suspended the flogging of 32 year-old part-time model Shukarno Kartika Sari Dewi, indicted for violating Islamic law that prohibits alcohol. The suspension was decided as an act of "mercy" by judges, reluctant to impose the sentence during the holy month of Ramadan which began over the weekend.

In December 2007 the mother of two children, drank a beer in a public place in the eastern state of Pahang. Arrested by police officers, she was indicted for breaking the rules of Shariah. Islamic law provides a penalty of three years imprisonment and flogging for Muslims caught consuming alcohol, however in most cases the accused is usually charged an administrative fine.  

"The sentence has not been lifted” Sahfri Mohamad Abdul Aziz, State Parliamentarian for Religious Affairs told Associated Press. He explains that the office of the Attorney General has postponed the sentence to the end of the Muslimholy month of fasting and prayer, out of  "mercy" toward the woman.

Last July the Islamic courts sentenced Kartika to one week in prison and six lashes. The authorities added that the stick used to beat the woman will be lighter than that used for men, because the goal is to educate rather than punish. The woman did not opposed the decision and had requested that she be punished "in public".  

The ruling against Kartka has received wide coverage in international media and has generated feelings of unanimous condemnation. The ruling majority and opposition parties in Malaysia have instead remained silent on the matter. The support of the Islamic movement Pas is essential to those wanting to govern: a formal statement would have provoked the reaction of the fundamentalist wing of the country and compromised future election alliances.

 
 
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