In 2007 Malaysian model and Muslim Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno was caught drinking a beer in a bar. In July 2009 Shukarno was sentenced to six strokes of the rattan [bamboo-like] whipping cane for drinking the beer. Note to reader: Sharia Law prohibits alcohol consumption among Malaysian Muslims. Now I usually pride myself on not imposing my so-called progressive albeit westernized beliefs on the rest of the world. I'm not one of those humane-minded Americans who believe every ritual and custom outside my insulated experience is primitive. However, I do believe humanity has a lot of holes in it. You can boo and hiss me all you like. From clitorectomies to structuring present-day morality on 2000 year-old religious texts, too many of us are imprisoned by ancient and often illogical interpretations of what's right or wrong on planet Earth.
I say this only because Shukarno is cool about the cane-beating. That's right. She believes in respecting Islamic law even it calls for her to bend over for sipping a brewsky. I guess nobody wants to mention Muslim-controlled Malaysia makes a mint selling booze and other thrills to tourists on a daily. But there's a bright side to this beer-drinking story. Malaysian authorities have insured everyone that Shukarno's thrashing with be less severe than Muslim men: they'll use a smaller cane. And today? Well, today Malaysian authorities decided to delay Shukarno's beating until post Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting and prayer, for "compassionate reasons". So I guess cane-beatings are an ugly thing for Malaysians afterall. Look, I understand every culture and religion has a way of keeping its members in line. But if Malaysia doesn't want their Muslims to drink then why not ban alcohol from the country. Wait, I've looped back around to the booze and tourist industry again.
Keith Josef Adkins is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter and social commentator.