On March 19th 2015, The Syariah Criminal Code Enactment (II)(1993) Amendment 2015 (commonly referred to as hudud) was unanimously passed by the Kelantan State Assembly.
We performed opinion-based analysis on 851 users based in Selangor and Kelantan who tweeted about Hudud from March 18th 2015 – March 22nd 2015.
396 users were from Kelantan (margin of error: 4.92%) and 455 users were from Selangor (margin of error: 4.59%).
Users were selected based on their tweet content and activity during this period. Sampling was done per-state based on the current estimated user population.
Spammers, news agencies and accounts with automated tweets were not included in the sample. Users talking solely about other issues (e.g. the BFM ‘kupas’ hudud video) were also excluded as we wanted to analyse users with opinions about hudud itself.
From this dataset we analysed the individual Twitter user timelines to determine their opinion about hudud. This took their tweets, retweets and conversations into account.
Our goal was to gauge public opinion by Malaysian users on their support for the law, in light of the enactment being passed in Kelantan.
Based on this analysis we categorised users as belonging to one of the following categories:
- Not Support Hudud
- Support Hudud
- Uncategorised (No Opinion / Other Opinions)
Uncategorised opinions are from users who have no clear opinion that matched the criteria of the other stated categories.
Here are the results:
What follows are the findings for each category.
1.1 Not Support Hudud
Kelantan: 8 users (2.02%)
Selangor: 63 users (13.85%)
Users who publicly did not support hudud at this time. The most common reasons and opinions expressed were:
- concerns on whether hudud will be implemented fairly
- other issues more important now
- not the correct time to implement hudud (few users expressed this)
- implementing hudud goes against the Federal Constitution (few users expressed this)
- not right for a country with multiple races and religions (very few users expressed this)
1.2 Support Hudud
Kelantan: 375 users (94.70%)
Selangor: 346 users (76.04%)
Users who publicly supported implementing hudud. The most common reasons and opinions expressed were:
- It is a sin not to support hudud
- Hudud must be supported by Muslims because all Muslims must support hudud.
- Hudud is not a political issue, so supporting it does not mean choosing between PAS or UMNO
- Hudud is created by Allah, not PAS
- Hudud laws are Allah’s laws, so opposing hudud is the same as going against Allah
- There is no such thing as ‘PAS hudud’ or ‘UMNO hudud’
- Only criminals need to fear hudud
- Those who don’t support hudud should leave Malaysia / Kelantan
- Kelantanese people accept hudud so outsiders should stay away and not comment about it
- Hudud must not be challenged or criticised
- Hudud is needed to fix problems in society e.g. zina (adultery); theft; rape; crime in general
- No reason to delay implementing hudud, i.e. “If not now, then when?”
- Because Malaysia is an Islamic country
- Brunei referred to as a good example of hudud being applied
1.3 Uncategorised (No Opinion / Other Opinions)
Kelantan: 13 users (3.28%)
Selangor: 46 users (10.11%)
Users who were talking about hudud but not having a clear opinion. This included users who were asking others for more information about hudud.
2. Additional Opinions
Users tweeting about hudud also expressed the following opinions/sentiment on related topics. This listing was summarised based on a manual reading of a sample of 1659 users in Selangor and Kelantan, inclusive of the sample used for the above analysis.
These expressions are not indicative of their support for hudud, but we are including it here for informative reasons.
2.1 On discussion of hudud by Muslims
- Those without knowledge should not comment on or discuss hudud. It is better to keep quiet and listen to experts.
- Discussions about hudud must be handled with care or avoided entirely, to avoid confusion
- Muslims who oppose hudud should keep quiet and not obstruct others’ efforts to implement it
- The government should invest in forums and advertising to educate people on hudud
- Expressions of sadness / being offended by Muslims who don’t support hudud
- Blaming DAP / Western influences for making Malays not support hudud
- Criticism was also directed towards non-hijab wearing Malay women who opposed hudud i.e. “You should cover up before being qualified to comment on hudud”
2.2 On discussion of hudud by non-Muslims
- Expressions of confusion on why non-Muslims are commenting on hudud. Because the law only affects Muslims, it did not make sense to these users for non-Muslims to be involved in the discussion. They don’t understand why non-Muslims would reject it.
- Declaration that non-Muslims should not comment on or criticise hudud; and DAP and MCA should stay out of this
- Disagreement by non-Muslims has little to no value compared to disagreement by Muslims.
- Non-Muslim views are less important as their permission is not required for implementing hudud.
- Non-Muslims who supported hudud were widely praised
2.3 On Aisyah Tajuddin (the BFM presenter)
- She was mainly criticised for her video presentation that many users interpreted as belittling hudud. Even the few users who agreed with her or found her points interesting also found her remarks rude.
- Both male and female users were fixated on her not covering up (i.e. wearing the hijab). Her ‘improper’ attire made her less qualified to give an opinion on hudud.
- There were rape and death threats as well. Some death threats were vague (wishing death on her) and some were specific (wanting to chop her head)
2.4 On political parties
- praise for PAS and UMNO for working together
- praise for UMNO for obeying God
- criticism of DAP because
- non-Muslims should not comment on Hudud (i.e. DAP is parti bukan Islam)
- DAP does not have a seat in Kelantan’s State Assembly
- criticism of MCA because non-Muslims should not comment on hudud
- praise for the PKR ADUN for voting against his party’s wishes
- criticism of PKR for not fully supporting hudud
- criticism of people who try to paint hudud as a ‘PAS version’
- criticism of PAS for not explaining hudud better
- supporters of hudud wanted a better explanation so that hudud support would increase;
- users opposed to hudud stated they did so partly due to a lack of explanation by PAS
2.5 Other opinions
- any issues with implementation can be resolved with time
- criticism of people who try to relate/compare hudud to the economy or flood recovery
- people who respect freedom of religion should respect Muslim need for hudud
The analysis indicates strong support for hudud from Twitter users in Kelantan and Selangor. However much of this support does not indicate whether users were aware or concerned about how the law was to be implemented. For most of them supporting hudud was a matter of fulfilling religious obligations. There was also a widely-expressed belief that people would accept hudud if they learned more about it.
Whether peer pressure or religious teaching played a strong role in shaping opinion is not clear. The following exchange between two users does illustrate the kind of pressure faced by people:
Q: What if we don’t agree with hudud being implemented?
A: If we don’t agree with implementing hudud that means we don’t agree with hukum Allah. So we must be neutral. If hudud is to be implemented, we must agree. Otherwise we are going against Allah.
The expressions of confusion on why non-Muslims are concerned would indicate that users believe they live in separate societies – Muslim and non-Muslim. So it made sense for Muslims and non-Muslims to be governed by different legal systems. Two users in the analysed sample expressed that having one set of laws for Muslims and another for non-Muslims would be fairer than the current civil system.
If Twitter users in the rest of the country hold similar views on hudud, it is likely that the hudud bill would receive much praise from this user demographic if it were passed in Parliament.
4. About the Population Sample
The results reflect a young demographic, by our estimates to be between 18 – 30 years old. Most of their tweets were in Bahasa Malaysia (estimated 85% – 95% of the total 1659 users) .
It is worth noting that there is no pattern between use of language and support of hudud i.e. English speakers were just as likely to support hudud as they were to oppose hudud. The topic drew greater interest from the younger generation within the demographic (university/college students).
4.1 Differences between Kelantan and Selangor users
There was significantly more aggression directed at Aisyah Tajuddin by Selangor users. A higher percentage of Selangor users were talking about the BFM video and criticising her compared to Kelantan users.
Some Selangor users expressed interest in learning more about the hudud enactment or acknowledged not knowing much about it.
4.2 Scale of Importance on Twitter
As a conversation topic on Twitter, hudud is very popular. As the infographic below shows, hudud was more talked-about this year than Najib Razak or Anwar Ibrahim.
For another perspective, this network graph shows how users tweeting about hudud from March 18th – 22nd were connected. This includes all users on Twitter. Each user is represented by a node (circle) that is coloured based on the number of their tweets that were retweeted and the number of tweets sent to them. The more attention they receive, the larger the node. Any node that retweets another node or tweets to another node is connected.
5. Additional Reading
We prepared lists of the most popular tweets about Hudud on March 19th, 20th and 21st. This should give an idea of what trended among Twitter users. Please follow the links below:
6. Location of users
Based on geo-tagged tweets, we are able to determine where users often tweet from. This is indicative of where they spend most of their time e.g. work-place; university; or residence.
Blue markers = support; Red markers = not support; Yellow markers = Uncategorised