KUALA LUMPUR: The Government and the Muslim community should view the amendments to strengthen the Syariah courts through the context of Islamic lenses and not political lenses, said Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom.
The Minister in the Prime Minister's Department said the last time the Syariah Court Act was amended there was no problem.
"But why is it that now when we want to amend it again we must have a rally to make our voices known?
"Because there are people who do not understand and purposely create a perception of distrust against it," he said at Himpunan 355 in support of the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (Act 355) amendments tabled in the Dewan Rakyat through a Private Member's Bill by PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang.
In his speech, Abdul Hadi said people who belittle efforts to strengthen the jurisdiction of Syariah Courts to mete out increased penalties should look into "outdated laws".
He said this was because the current "man-made" laws have not managed to curb or reduce crime in the country or the world.
"The laws that permits death by hanging, which era is that from?
"These are the ones that should be discussed by them and not argue about Islamic laws which they have little knowledge about," said Abdul Hadi at the rally to drum up support ahead of the Parliament session next month.
Although the Marang MP did not mention it specifically, it was apparent that he was referring to laws in civil courts.
Abdul Hadi said the rally last night had nothing to do with politicians or Muslim non-govermental organisations as Syariah laws were "the laws of God".
He added that efforts to ensure amendments to strengthen Syariah Courts would go on so that the people could see the hikmah (wisdom) brought to everyone.
About a dozen others, who spoke at the rally, also assured the people that the amendments were in their best interest.
One supporter from Pertubuhan Permuafakatan Majlis Ayahanda said those opposing the Bill were actually going against the Federal Constitution.
Dr Abdul Kadir Warsi said this was because matters relating to Islam was enshrined in the Constitution.
Another speaker Nuredah Salleh said it was a sad state of affairs that Act 355 had not been amended in 34 years.
There were also non-Muslim speakers who urged the people not to fear the Bill.
This, said PAS Supporters Congress chief N. Balasubramaniam, was because the freedom to practise one's religion was enshrined in the Constitution.
"This Bill has nothing to do with non-Muslims.
"What is there to be worried about?" he asked.
Balasubramaniam assured non-Muslims that their religious freedom would not be affected.