"In modern times, people have forgotten our culture and religion. Religion is important in India and no Hindu or Muslim will tolerate unmarried men and women cohabiting and doing things only married couples are supposed to do," Azmi said, adding that Islamic law provides for punishment for such conduct.
However, sensing that the comment may cause damage to the party's image in run-up to elections, the SP blamed the media for "distorting" the statements made by Azmi and Mulayam.
"The sole aim of such misinformation by the vested interest is to cause electoral loss to the Samajwadi Party in the present election," SP spokesperson Abdul Kadir Chaudhary said.
He further said, "the SP opposes any sort of crime against women. The party is always in favour of respect for women and their safety".
Azmi had said that "no decent, cultured family will allow their women to do such things. Islam provides for punishment for such conduct.
"Today, America and other modern countries are beating 'Damru' (pellet drum) and drawing us towards their culture. Their culture is polluting our culture," he added.
The SP Maharashtra president's son Farhan Azmi is in poll fray from Mumbai North Central seat along with incumbent Congress' MP Priya Dutt and BJP's Poonam Mahajan.
"The party has always opposed any crime against women and organised demonstration to this effect. The SP has been demanding and always opposed uncultivated behaviour in public, alcoholism, drug abuse. It was due to this, the statement of party leaders is presented in a distorted manner," Farhan said.
Farhan came out in his father's defence saying his viewpoint needs to be understood in the Islamic context, as the religion prohibits pre-marital sexual activity.
"He is only trying to say an Islamic point of view. I feel that the entire country is being run by courts, by the constitution of our country and not by everyone who follows Islam. I respect the rule of Islam and I believe that Islamic rule if implemented, we must hang the rapist," he said.
Farhan further noted that consensual sex is a matter which is private between two adults. "I think they are free by the constitution and they are free to do it barring in public domain. Consensual sex cannot be acted upon," he said.
"Islam is against sex before marriage and I think it is an important view with which all the Muslims would agree with but to wrap the entire country under that rule will not be correct," Farhan added.
SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav had kicked up a major row by questioning the death sentence awarded to three men who were convicted of two gang rapes at the defunct Shakti Mills in Mumbai last week.
"Ladke, ladke hain. Galti ho jati hai (Boys are boys. Mistakes happen sometimes)," he had told a rally in Moradabad yesterday.
In a bid to contain the damage, the party spokesperson recalled how the SP had supported former bandit Phoolan Devi who had faced utmost atrocities in the society.
"She was made an MP on party ticket. Mulayam Singh has conveyed this message of respect for women and empowerment of women," Chaudhary said.