Include counselling in sentence for insulting religion, urges Abim
The Malaysian Mulsim Youth Movement (Abim) has urged the government to consider including mandatory counselling sessions when it looks to stiffen punishment for those caught insulting religion.
The NGO's president Mohamad Raimi Abdul Rahim (above) said counselling and awareness programmes should be made mandatory for cases involving misconceptions of Islam.
"Aside from adding stiffer punishments, the government should implement awareness programmes to clear any misconception towards Islam as shown on social media.
"The awareness programme should be made compulsory for those found guilty so that the punishment they receive will impart a positive impact on the individual concerned as well as to the community.
"This includes the counselling process and advice by specialists appointed by the authorities to ensure cases on insulting religion which stem from misunderstanding can be addressed in the best way," he said in a statement.
Raimi added the counselling should be implemented in line with punishments stipulated under the relevant laws including Section 298A (1) of the Penal Code.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Mujahid Yusof Rawa last month stated that amendments to the Penal Code (Act 574) were being proposed to provide heavier penalties for those who insult religion.
The amendments, which cover Islam and other religions, were to have been brought up at a cabinet meeting before being tabled at the ongoing Dewan Rakyat sitting.
There has been a slew of arrests recently involving social media users who were alleged to have post content deemed insulting to Islam while one man was held for allegedly insulting Hinduism.
Of the arrests, one man was sentenced to 10 years and 10 months in jail by a Kuching lower court after he pleaded guilty to insulting Islam via a Facebook post.
Several quarters have deemed the sentence excessive, pointing out the man, aged 22, had pleaded guilty.