Pres. Obama’s Malaysian Muslim Misstep

 Hudud  punishments include execution
by sword/crucifixion/stoning,
amputations and flogging.
With Malaysia’s Muslim majority,
hudud is likely to be put in place.

In glancing over mainstream news headlines of President Obama’s trip to Malaysia, one may get the impression that this majority Muslim country is advanced with only a few social issues that need to be addressed.    A recent Washington Post article reported that  Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak told President Obama:

“Today, Mr. President, you see not rubber trees, as Lyndon B. Johnson did, but soaring skyscrapers. They are a testament to the transformation that is taking place here in Malaysia,” Najib said. “We are a modern, progressive Muslim majority nation, a multiethnic, multi-religious society.”

The article continues, citing President Obama’s view that the two leaders shared ..

“… the respect for freedom of assembly, the respect for people of different races and different faiths and different political philosophies — that those values are at the core of who the U.S. is, but also I think are a pretty good gauge of whether a society is going to be successful in the 21st century or not.”

In truth, Malaysia has problems – some serious problems and during his visit, President Obama did express some concerns over  reported  general election corruption and human rights issues.

The media also reported on President Obama’s visit to Malaysia’s nation mosque with one religious leader saying:

““There can be no better way for Obama to honour Islam than by visiting Masjid Negara”

And with that, we have a troubling disconnect with the U.S.President’s trip.

Having the U.S. President “honour” Islam in Malaysia may not be the most prudent action at this time. The country’s  legal system appears to be expanding towards sharia even though, under current Malaysian law, sharia courts only have jurisdiction over Muslims concerning certain civil matters. For example:

  • There was a Malaysian appeals court ruling in October 2013 finding that a Roman Catholic Church newspaper could not use the Arabic word “Allah” to refer to God because that phrase was reserved for Muslims.
  • The Malaysian state of Kelantan is currently having a heated debate over the implementation of hudud to the penal system.  Simply put, hudud  punishments involve fixed sentencing for designated crimes.  Hudud punishments include execution by sword/crucifixion/stoning, amputations and flogging.  With Malaysia’s Muslim majority, hudud is likely to be put in place.
  • This past March, a Christian woman was convicted by a sharia court for khalwat (close proximity) – a violation unique to the Muslim community.

With this trend the question becomes:  Should hudud be implemented, how likely will it be applied to non-Muslims?

Side Note:  Malaysia’s increase towards sharia influences follows that of others in the region as we reported in  Brunei moves to full Sharia



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