From the human rights angle

P.K. Balachandran reports from Colombo in the New Indian Express:

Four Muslim Members of Parliament, including a cabinet Minister, shouted down Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP M.A.Sumanthiran, when he mentioned the term “Shariah” while speaking in parliament on Friday on a Saudi Arabian court’s order to “stone to death” a Lankan women for committing adultery.

She was scheduled to be killed on Friday but the Saudis paused because she has appealed the sentence.

Sumanthiran, also a leading Supreme Court lawyer, said that laws regarding the mode of punishment in various countries should be looked at afresh, from the human rights angle. He mentioned stoning in Saudi Arabia, flogging in Singapore and the use of the electric chair in some states in the USA as examples of practices which need to be reviewed. He further said that countries cannot prevent people from across the world questioning laws which violate human rights and cannot use religion to stall intervention. He pointed out there has been international intervention in Sri Lanka to restore human rights in the island and Lanka has accepted it.

Quite right; well said. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a thing, and people across the world get to say so. We get to object to violations of human rights, and to talk about the institutions that perpetuate them. Religions should never be allowed to violate human rights or serve as justification for violations of human rights.

When the Tamil MP proceeded to ask if the Shariah law sanctions stoning to death, S.M.Marikkar, Rishad Bathiyudeen and two other Muslim MPs, shouted him down. Bathiyudeen insisted that Sumanthiran has no right to talk of Shariah law. Islam and Shariah law should not be dragged in when the entire House is engaged in saving the maid in question, Bathiyudeen argued. Sumanthiran’s contention that he had the right to speak on any religion so long as he is not offensive was rejected.

What nonsense. Saudi Arabia is an officially Islamic country, where Islamic law is the law and justifies the endless flagrant violations of human rights. Of course Islam and Sharia have to be “dragged in” when they’re at the root of this grotesque “punishment.”

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya’s pleas to the Muslim MPs to let Sumanthiran complete his speech fell on deaf ears. Even Minister Lakshman Kiriella’s assurance that anything hurtful to Islam could be expunged, failed to pacify the four Muslim MPs.

A defensive Sumanthiran said that he is not attacking Islam and that he is an avowed  friend of the Muslims. In fact, only recently, he had incurred fellow Tamils’ wrath when he described the en masse expulsion of Muslims from North Lanka by the LTTE in 1990 as “ethnic cleansing.”

Funny how it’s possible to do both, isn’t it. One can both defend Muslims against rights violations such as ethnic cleansing, and defend Muslims and non-Muslims against rights violations such as stoning to death and criminalization of sex, apostasy, atheism, not wearing hijab, and similar.

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