In a few countries such as Saudi Arabia, where the strictest interpretations of sharia law are applied, thieves can be punished by having their arms cut off. A senior official from the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), the country’s highest clerical body, recently said that he and his organization were planning to propose that the country adhere more closely to sharia law with punishments such as amputations for thieves and corruptors, but other MUI officials have denied his statement.
MUI deputy secretary general Tengku Zulkarnain made the controversial statement while speaking at a Jakarta mosque’s event on Monday night.
“I, with my colleagues, have discussed that we will propose that thieves and corruptors who have been proven guilty, with both evidence and witnesses, need not be imprisoned but only have their hands cut off. This proposal will be submitted after the 2019 election,” Tengku said during his speech as quoted by Islampos.
Masduki Baidlow, the head of communications for MUI, insisted yesterday that MUI had never proposed cutting off hands as a punishment in terms of enacting actual law, and claimed that Zulkarnain had never even discussed the proposal internally.
“We at MUI are shocked by the statement he made,” Masduki said yesterday as quoted by Tempo.
Cholil Nafis, the chairman of the Da’wah commission of MUI, also said that such a proposal had not been made but admitted that it had been discussed among senior officials, including vice presidential nominee and MUI chairman Ma’ruf Amin.
“We coordinate in regard to activities inside MUI because Kiai Ma’ruf is still the active general chairman. We also discussed (about the amputation punishment) and it will be discussed further with MUI,” Cholil said after meeting Ma’ruf yesterday as quoted by CNN Indonesia.
Islamic hardliners have advocated that Indonesia implement harsher sharia-based laws as a deterrent against crime. Some have specifically called for corruption convicts to be treated as thieves and have their hands cut off, calls that came after Irwandi Yusuf, the former governor of Aceh (the only province of Indonesia with special autonomy to enact explicitly sharia-based laws) was arrested by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) in July for alleged graft involving the region’s budget.