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Jakarta Post

World Islamic philosopher urges Jokowi to end death penalty

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Mon, August 1, 2016   /  12:19 pm
World Islamic philosopher urges Jokowi to end death penalty Activists from the People's Legal Aid Foundation light candles in protest against the third round of executions in front of the State Palace in Jakarta on July 28. (Antara/Muhammad Adimaja)

The execution spree in Indonesia has moved respected Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan to urge the government to end the death penalty for drug offenders as it does not reflect traditional or Islamic values.

Ramadan, the professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at the University of Oxford, the UK, wrote a personal letter to President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo on Sunday, saying Islamic law “calls for forgiveness and mercy. Above and beyond all of this, raḥmah [compassion] is an absolute necessity, an essential principle, an imperative duty, even if there is no doubt and all the conditions are gathered.”

Indonesia executed four drug convicts last Thursday, despite strong criticism from civil society groups, which argued that the country’s judicial system still demonstrated rampant unfair treatment and the use of torture and abuse. Furthermore, drug-related offences also continued to rise, despite 14 executions last year. The National Narcotics Agency (BNN) noted that there had been an increase in drug users, from 4.2 million in June 2015, to 5.9 million people in November 2015.

The authorities said there had been no decision yet as to when 10 other drug convicts would be put to death.

Ramadan said that no punishment for drug-related offences was specified in the Sharia legal framework. “The Quranic principle strictly prohibits the deprivation of the right to life of any human being and stipulates that life can only be taken as explicitly specified in the Sharia legal framework.”

As the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, he continued, Indonesia should lead the way in demonstrating that Islam and democracy can go hand in hand. “In this context, I would like to set out some principles, based on Islamic understanding of the scriptural sources and the strict conditions required by the Islamic penal code [ḥudūd], which stipulate that these executions must be stayed.”

Ramadan urged Jokowi to follow the guidance of the Prophet, “who guides Muslims to pardon and forgive offenders, encourages repentance and mercy, and the suspension of the death penalty whenever possible.”

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