Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The threat to whip a woman for drinking beer spotlights Malaysia's rising religious dilemma

It is starting to appear that Malaysia, characterized habitually in the world's press as a "moderate, majority Muslim nation," is beginning to reap the whirlwind of fundamentalist Islam.

It isn't just the caning of Kartika Sri Dewi Shukarnor, a divorced mother of two, for drinking beer in a resort bar two years ago, which has been on the front pages of newspapers across the world. That alone is giving the moderate government of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak fits and damaging both the investment and tourism climates. With the shariah court having deferred the caning until after the end of the Ramadan holy month, that gives Najib another month to endure criticism from human rights groups and western governments.

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