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12th May
2008
  

Update: Religion of Convenience...

Malaysians allow a very restricted category of people to leave islam

Apostasy CDA Malaysian Islamic court has allowed a Chinese convert to renounce Islam in a rare decision for this conservative Muslim-led nation.

Apostasy is one of the gravest sins in Islam and a very sensitive issue in Malaysia where Islamic sharia courts have rarely allowed such renunciations and have also jailed apostates.

Penang Sharia Court judge Othman Ibrahim said he had no choice but to allow an application by cook Siti Fatimah Tan Abdullah to renounce her faith and return to Buddhism.

The court has no choice but to declare that Siti Fatimah Tan Abdullah is no longer a Muslim as she has never practised the teachings of Islam, Othman told a packed courtroom: I order the conversion certificate to be nullified .

Siti Fatimah or Tan Ean Huang said she had never practised Islamic teachings since she converted in 1998 and only did so to enable her to marry Iranian Ferdoun Ashanian.

The couple married in 2004 but since then her husband has left her following which she filed for the renunciation.

Othman said it was clear from witnesses and the evidence presented that Siti had continued to practise Buddhism even after her conversion. He rebuked the state Islamic religious council for not counselling and looking after the welfare of new converts.

Update: Well Some Muslims Allow It

23rd May 2008

A group of Muslims in Malaysia's northern Penang state staged a protest to denounce an Islamic sharia court's rare ruling allowing a Chinese convert to renounce her faith.

Hizbut Tahrir Malaysia, an Islamic hardline group, gathered outside the court and submitted a memorandum urging a judicial review of the decision.

We outrightly disagree with the court decision as it is against Islamic laws. In Islam, a person who insists on leaving the religion must be punished with death, the group's blood thirsty president Abdul Hakim Othman told reporters.

 

10th August
2008
  

Update: Catch 22...

Malaysian courts refuses to allow woman to leave islam

Apostasy CD A Sharia Court of Appeal has denied permission for a 35-year-old local Chinese woman to leave Islam and convert to Christianity. Noorashikin Lim Abdullah (previously known as Lim Yoke Khoon) had her case thrown out because the legal paperwork had the wrong name on it.

The woman acquired the name Abdullah three years ago when she married a Muslim. However, her former name, Lim Yoke Khoon, appeared on the paperwork which the court ruled was a person that no longer existed.

Interestingly, when her marriage fell apart, the woman tried to change the name and religion on her identity card but the National Registration Department said she must first get permission from the Islamic Sharia Court to renounce Islam. So, she goes to the Sharia Court where she's told she can't renounce Islam because she hasn't changed her name.

Notably, the disputes regarding religious conversions in Malaysia are frustrating minorities since Sharia Courts almost always rule against people wanting to leave Islam.

Based on article from muslimnews.co.uk

Protestors forced lawyers in Malaysia to abandon a conference on religious conversion on Saturday, decrying it as an effort to challenge the official status of Islam in this Muslim-majority country.

Police instructed the Bar Council to halt the conference for security reasons after more than 300 demonstrators gathered outside the headquarters of the legal association.

Council President Ambiga Sreenavasan ended the forum less than an hour after it began, saying the lawyers respected the opinions of the protesters and have no quarrel with anyone.

The outcry over the conference - which was meant to examine how families are caught in legal conflicts if one spouse in a marriage converts to Islam - mirrors the resistance of some Muslims to what they say are minorities' unfair demands for religious equality.

Many top Muslim politicians had urged the Bar Council to scrap the talk, which was to include both Muslim and non-Muslim legal experts, saying it could inflame religious sentiments and undermine social peace.

Protesters held signs that read Don't challenge Islam and shouted slogans including Crush the Bar Council , accusing the lawyers' group of meddling with Islam's position as Malaysia's official religion. Some threatened to storm the hall where the forum was held.

 

9th March
2009
  

Update: What's in a Name?...

Rare Malaysian court victory in favour of non-muslim

Malaysia flagAn Islamic court in Malaysia ruled that a man given an Islamic name at birth was a Christian, a rare victory for religious minorities in this Muslim-dominated nation.

The man — whose original identity card listed his name as Mohammad Shah alias Gilbert Freeman — brought his case to the Shariah court in southern Negeri Sembilan state after the National Registration Department refused to accept he was a Christian and allow him to drop his Islamic name when he applied for a new identity card.

Lawyer Hanif Hassan said his client was raised as a Christian by his mother, and his Islamic name came from his Muslim father, who left the family when he was only 2-months-old. Freeman is married according to Christian rites and has three children who are Christians.

The Shariah court ruled that he is not a Muslim. He is not practicing Islam, and he hasn't applied to be a Muslim, Hanif told The Associated Press.

Malaysia has a dual court system. Muslims are governed by the Islamic Shariah courts while civil courts have jurisdiction over non-Muslims. But inter-religious disputes usually end up in Shariah courts, and end in favor of Muslims.

Freeman sought the court's help because he said he was getting old and he didn't want any confusion over whether he should receive a Christian burial after, Hanif said. There have been several cases of Islamic authorities claiming the bodies of people they say converted secretly to Islam.

 

19th September
2009
  

Update: Deviationists...

Malaysian religious police on the trail of those preaching a different flavour of nonsense

Rasul Melayu A fugitive 'deviationist' sect leader who had proclaimed to be Rasul Melayu (Malay prophet), will spend Aidilfitri in prison.

Abdul Kahar Ahmad, who was nabbed by a team of Selangor Religious Department enforcement officers, will be held in custody at an undisclosed prison in Selangor.

Over the past three years, he had allegedly preached the deviationist Kahar Ahmad Teachings while playing hide-and-seek with the religious police.

Following the arrest, the Syariah High Court ordered that he be held in the prison, pending hearing of his case on Oct 7.

 

19th September
2009
  

Malaysia Goes to Shite...

Malaysian couple to be flogged for pre-marital sex

Malaysia flag An engaged Muslim couple who tried to have sex in a car have been sentenced to be caned by a Sharia court in Malaysia.

Islamic religious police caught the couple wearing only their underwear in a car at an office parking area in May.

They pleaded guilty to trying to have sex out of wedlock and were sentenced to six strokes of the cane. They were also fined £1,000 each.

The couple, who plan to marry soon, are appealing against the caning but they have paid the fines.

 

22nd October
2009
  

Update: Intolerant Malaysia...

10 years in jail for the wrong flavour of nonsense

Rasul MelayuA lawyer says a Malaysian Islamic court has sentenced a Muslim sect leader to 10 years in prison and six lashes from a rattan cane for spreading false teachings.

Abdul Kahar Ahmad pleaded guilty in an Islamic Shariah court last month to charges of spreading false doctrines, blasphemy and violating religious precepts.

He had been charged in 2006 but went into hiding for three years to evade trial before Islamic religious police tracked him down in central Selangor state last month.

Islamic state prosecutor Muhamad Nazri Basrawi says the Shariah court decided to jail Abdul Kahar for 10 years and to cane him six times.

 

20th July
2011
  

Update: Mad Mullahs' Teapot Party...

Malaysian women fails to realise her right to freedom of religion

sky kingdomMalaysia's civil court has refused a woman permission to leave Islam to avoid being jailed for apostasy.

Kamariah Ali says she should not be tried under Islamic law because she is no longer a Muslim. She follows the Sky Kingdom sect, known as the teapot cult because it built a giant teapot to symbolise its belief in the healing purity of water.

But judges ruled that only Malaysia's Islamic courts could decide on the case because Ms Kamariah was born a Muslim. Malaysia's Islamic courts have authority over only Muslims and ex-muslims, the rest of the population are not bound by their rules.

Ms Kamariah had asked the civil courts to declare her freedom to worship, as guaranteed by the constitution, but not honoured by Malaysian law.

But the judging panel said she had to go through the Islamic courts system in order to renounce her faith - something that is nigh on impossible.

 

29th August
2011
  

Comment: It Can be Done...

For Malaysians to get islam revoked on their ID cards

kuala lumpur syariah courtI think any Muslim convert can renounce Islam in Malaysia, and all he or she has to do is to go Syariah Court.

This Syariah lawyer by the name Zaini may be able to help.

He has successfully helped my colleague recently. And my friend is now happy to see her name in her identity card changed to her original Chinese name and her religious status as Islam, removed.

 

21st October
2011
  

Updated: Easily Shaken Beliefs...

Malaysian muslims sent for counselling after dinner with christians
Religious Police

  Religious counselling?

A group of Muslims who attended a multi-ethnic dinner at a Methodist Church hall in Malaysia are to receive counselling because Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah, the constitutional ruler of Malaysia's central Selangor state, believes they may have been contaminated by their encounter with the infidels.

Islamic officials who raided a dinner at a Methodist church hall in early August Supposedly found evidence that there were attempts to subvert the faith and belief of Muslims, but the evidence was said to be insufficient for further legal actions to be taken.

Shah said:

We command that (Islamic officials) provide counseling to Muslims who were involved in the said dinner, to restore their belief and faith in the religion of Islam.

Church officials had repeatedly denied any proselytisation occurred at the dinner, which they described as a multi-ethnic gathering to celebrate the work of a community organisation that worked with women, children and HIV patients. Christian leaders had also criticised Islamic state enforcement officials for what they called an unauthorised raid.

Update: Rally to demand additional anti-apostasy laws

21st October 2011. Based on article from thejakartaglobe.com

Malaysian police have issued a permit for a mass gathering of Muslims this Saturday to defend Islam against Christian proselytization , an event politicians and others fear will stoke religious tension.

The Himpunan Sejuta Umat, or gathering of one million Muslim faithful, is organized by 25 organizations, including the Malay supremacy group Perkasa. It is calling for a new law to punish those who try to convert Muslims.

The rally comes after a controversial raid in August by the Selangor Islamic authorities on a church dinner attended by Muslims. The Sultan of Selangor later said the authorities did find evidence of attempts to convert Muslims but it was insufficient for legal action.

Update: 5000 Rally

23rd October 2011. See article from monstersandcritics.com

An estimated 5,000 Malaysian Muslims held a rally Saturday in central Selangor state to protest what they alleged were conversion attempts by Christians.

The protests come amid rising religious tensions in the country. Participants held banners that said: Don't Threaten The Position of Islam and A United Malay, A Sovereign Islam.

Yusri Mohamad, a rally organizer, told the crowd, We are gathered here today to save the faith of Muslims. The biggest threat to our faith is apostasy.

 

18th November
2011
  

Update: Hardly Free...

Sarawak converts to islam are 'free' to convert back to their old religion as long as they put up with a year of 'counselling' by the state

Sarawak flagThe government of the malaysian state of Sarawak says that it does not intend to adopt anti-apostasy law because Sarawak practises religious freedom where each and every individual can choose the religion of his or her choice.

However, Assistant Minister of Islamic Affairs Datuk Daud Abdul Rahman said: We do not encourage converts to leave the religion neither do we have an iron grip on them. We can only advice them, said Daud, reiterating that the state upholds the rights of individuals where religion is concerned.

Daud was commenting on a recent statement by Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom that it was up to the individual states to propose an anti-apostasy law. Daud said the state, unlike West Malaysia, looks at religion from a different point of view and if converts really want to leave the religion after being advised against it, there is nothing much that the State Religious Department can do.

...HOWEVER...

we have set up a committee called 'Akidah Committee' headed by the State Mufti to help the new converts and to counsel them on religious matters, he said. Daud explained that a convert who wanted to leave the religion would normally inform the State Religious Department about it and he (the convert) would be given counselling sessions by officers from the department for up to a year before he (the convert) can make a final decision.

The Assistant Minister said that he had personally received requests from several individuals regarding the matter, and his solution was always to let the individuals decide what was best for them [after a year of state 'conselling']. Another problem is that those who want to leave the religion have to deal with the National Registration Department in deleting the 'bin' or 'binti' from their name as displayed in the identification card, he said. [Clearly not an easy progress].

Most converts, he said, converted to Islam for the sake of marrying a Muslim man or woman and they had almost zero knowledge about Islam: Even their Muslim partner may have very little knowledge of Islam and they tend to lead a non-Islamic way of life after conversion, leading them to think that there is no difference if they go back to their old beliefs.

 

28th February
2012
  

Updated: Violence by the Book...

Afghan protests over the incineration of discarded books that included Korans

Afghanistan flag2,000+ angry Afghans gathered outside a US airbase to protest against the inadvertent burning of Korans and other Islamic religious materials. The items are thought to have been burned as part of routine disposal of rubbish at the base. The books were previously used by detainees and were no longer required.

US Gen John Allen, the top commander in Afghanistan, apologised and ordered an investigation into the incident, which he was not intentional in any way.

The incident stoked anti-foreign sentiment that already is on the rise after nearly a decade of war in Afghanistan and fuelled the arguments of Afghans who believe foreign troops are not respectful of their culture or Islamic religion.

As word of the incident spread, about 100 demonstrators gathered outside the Bagram Air Field, north of Kabul in Parwan province this morning. As the crowd grew, so did the outrage. Die, die, foreigners! the demonstrators shouted. Some fired hunting guns into the air. Others threw rocks at the gate of the base.

Update: Violence Intensifies

25th February 2012. See article from bbc.co.uk

Thousands of enraged Afghans have taken to the streets for a fourth day, after US soldiers inadvertently set fire to copies of the Koran.

In the deadliest day of unrest so far, at least 12 people died across the country, as mobs charged at US bases and diplomatic missions.

More than 20 people have been killed since the unrest began, including two US soldiers who died on Thursday.

President Barack Obama has apologised for the Koran-burning incident. In a letter to his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai, Obama said the books had been unintentionally mishandled .

Update: Violence Continues

27th February 2012. See article from independent.co.uk

Protests continued in Afghan cities and spread to Pakistan yesterday after the US admitted that copies of the Koran were accidentally burned by US forces at Bagram airbase.

The worst trouble was in Kunduz province, where a peaceful rally turned violent as marchers tried to enter the district's largest city.

Amanuddin Quriashi, the district administrator, said some in the crowd fired at police and threw grenades at a US base on the city's outskirts. Seven Nato troops were wounded and one protester died when soldiers fired back from the US base. Another protester was killed by Afghan police.

Update: Violent Revenge

28th February 2012. See article from bbc.co.uk

A Taliban suicide car bomber has killed at least nine people and wounded 10 others in an attack at Jalalabad airport in eastern Afghanistan.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in an email to media: This attack is revenge against those soldiers who burned our Koran.

Update: Shameful UN call for a sacrificial lamb

8th March 2012. See article from tolonews.com

The UN Special Representative for Afghanistan, Ján Kubiš, has called for the US military to take disciplinary action against those who burned Korans at Bagram air base.

After the first step of a profound apology, there must be a second step of disciplinary action, Kubis spewed.

Update: Soldiers to face punishment but not criminal charges

22nd June  2012. See article from dailymail.co.uk

A military investigation is recommending that seven U.S. soldiers are punished for the burning of Korans.

They face administrative punishments, but not criminal charges, following the incident four months ago at a U.S. base in Afghanistan. Punishments can range from a letter in their file to docking their pay or assigning them additional duties.

U.S. military officials said the classified report and recommendations for disciplinary action against the service members involved were delivered to the Pentagon more than a week ago.

The lack of any criminal charges being taken is because military officials feel the incident was regrettable, but a mistake.

The decision is likely to anger Afghans who were enraged by the burning. Thousands took to the streets across the country in deadly riots after it happened. More than 30 people were killed in the clashes, including two U.S. troops who were shot by an Afghan soldier. Two U.S. military advisers were also gunned down at their desks at the Interior Ministry.

 

27th July
2013

 Update: One That Got Away...

Mother wins legal case against the remote religious conversion of her children by her estranged husband

Malaysia flagA Malaysian court has nullified the religious conversion of three children to Islam without their mother's consent citing it to be unlawful and unconstitutional.

The mother, Indira Gandhi, won the four-year-long case where she had filed against the religious conversion of her three children to Islam by her estranged husband Mohd Riduan Abdullah in 2009.

Indira said her husband had took away their one-month-old daughter and the children's birth certificates along with him four years ago.

In the landmark ruling, Justice Lee Swee Sang declared that the religious conversion flouted several norms and could not be validated.

Sweng said the religious certificates were issued in the absence of the children and mother which went against the principles of natural justice.  Article 11 provides for the right to educate a child in one's own religion; Article 5 says right to life and liberty, and Article 3 allows other regions to be practiced in peace and harmony.