The ethics of penal amputation
Malaysia is a South East Asian country with a racially diverse population. Islam is the state religion and about 60% of the population is Muslim, but the rights of other religious groups are protected by law. The Parti Islam se Malaysia, which has ruled the state of Kelantan since 1999, and believes that Malaysia should be ruled by Sharia law, recently proposed the implementation of Hudud laws in Kelantan. However, the federal government has ruled out its implementation. The suggestion stirred up a controversy among the physician community and the Malaysian Medical Association rejected a proposal by the state’s political leadership to utilise the services of qualified surgeons to carry out punitive limb amputations. Several Islamic states such as Sudan, Saudi Arabia, and Iran practice Islamic penal justice, including amputations. The question therefore arises: how should a modern medical practitioner approach this ethical question? This study focuses mainly on Malaysia, but draws upon practices in other Islamic countries also.
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