Malaysia’s Bar is calling for the Islamic court to reduce the sentences handed to six men who skipped obligatory prayers to caught bathe and picnic at a Terengganu waterfall.
The men, who were slapped with a RM2,400 (S$786) fine and one-month jail sentence each, were the first in the country to be prosecuted under a law that allows the Syariah Court to punish Muslims who skip Friday prayers.
One individual, a father of two, was fined RM2,500, according to a report by Harian Metro translated by Malay Mail.
The men, aged between 17 and 35, were caught by the Terengganu Islamic Religious Affairs Department picnicking with their families at Sekayu Waterfall on August 23, the report added.
Sekayu waterfall, a famous tourist attraction, is a popular recreational spot in the Eastern state.
Bar Council president Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor said in a statement that the sentence was “harsh and excessive” when weighed against the nature of the offence and the age of the offenders, Free Malaysia Today (FMT) reported.
“We are of the view that sentencing under one’s religious law must not be seen as merciless and harsh, but rather, just and compassionate with an objective of educating and not punishing,” FMT quoted Abdul Fareed as saying.
The Bar urged the court to impose a lighter sentence “to reflect the grace and nobility within the precepts of Shariah law” and serve as a “positive admonishment for would-be offenders,” the report added.
According to Malay Mail’s report, the men could have been jailed for up to two years and fined up to RM3,000 each.