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 Saturday, 11 January, 2003, 11:29 GMT
Malaysian Islamist calls for stonings

The spiritual leader of Malaysia's main Islamist opposition party, Pas, has called for people convicted of sex crimes to be stoned to death in public.

On Friday Malaysia announced that it would not bring in the death penalty for those convicted of rape and incest involving children, as had originally been proposed.

Nik Aziz Nik Mat
Mr Nik Aziz has made a string of controversial suggestions
Pas has welcomed moves by the government to bring in tougher sentencing for sex offenders but says they don't go far enough.

The new penalties unveiled on Friday did not include the death sentence originally proposed for sex crimes involving children.

Instead those found guilty of rape or incest will face whipping and up to 30 years in jail.

Learning through pain

But Pas' spiritual leader, Nik Aziz Nik Mat, says the new laws are not in accordance with Islam and he wants rapists to be publicly stoned to death.

He says it is important that the people see the pain of those being stoned so that they can learn from it.

He believes stoning in private would not act as a deterrent.

His party has been trying to bring in strict Islamic laws known as Hudud laws in the two states that it controls but has been blocked by the national government.

Colourful reputation

Pas is locked in a struggle with the Umno party of the Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Both attract votes from the half of Malaysia's population that is both ethnically Malay and Muslim.

Pas makes much of its claim that its leaders are both less corrupt and better Muslims than Dr Mahathir's colleagues and its support shows little sign of weakening.

Pas' leaders have also garnered a colourful reputation. Nik Aziz, who is also chief minister of the state of Kelantan, once decreed that the state should only employ ugly women because pretty ones could find husbands.

See also:

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