Malaysia Shari’ah Court Rejects Woman’s Conversion to Christianity
Posted by thebosun on May 30, 2007
Courtesy of Al Jazeera
By Claudia Theophilus
Public talks on religion have ceased amid simmering tensions between Muslims and rights groups [EPA]
Malaysia’s highest civil court has dismissed a Muslim woman’s appeal to be officially recognized as having converted to Christianity. In a defining decision for the multi-religious society, the court ruled against Lina Joy’s appeal to have her new faith reflected on her identity card, a move rights groups called a “backward step” for Malaysia.
The court had to decide whether the National Registration Department (NRD) was right to require Joy to seek a sharia court’s permission to renounce her faith before she could have the word “Islam” removed from her identity card, and whether the civil or sharia courts had jurisdiction in the matter.
Joy’s argument was that the sharia court, a parallel legal system governing Muslims on property and family matters, had no jurisdiction over her since she had renounced Islam. She argued that she had the right to profess the faith of her choice under the federal constitution. Malaysian law defines ethnic Malays as Muslims and few cases seeking legal recognition of conversions have been successful.
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