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Malaysia: Muslims handed jail terms for missing prayers

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KAULA LUMPUR: Six Malaysian Muslims have reportedly been handed one-month jail terms for skipping prayers in violation of Islamic laws, sparking fresh concern Wednesday about rising religious conservatism in the multi-ethnic country.
Attending Friday prayers is obligatory for Muslim men in Malaysia, but it is rare for such harsh punishments to be meted out for missing them.
Aged 17 to 35, the men had been caught having a picnic by a waterfall instead of taking part in prayers on a Friday, the holiest day of the week for Muslims, newspaper Harian Metro reported.
They were also fined between 2,400 and 2,500 ringgit ($575-$600) each after pleading guilty Sunday in a sharia court in the conservative northeastern state of Terengganu.
They are still free on bail while they appeal the sentences. They could had been jailed for a maximum of two years under Muslim-majority Malaysia’s sharia laws.
“The alleged failure to attend Friday prayers is a personal matter,” Zaid Malek, from rights group Lawyers for Liberty, said in a statement.

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