Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Malaysian Convert Lina Joy Loses Appeal In High Court

In a 2-1 decision, Malaysia's Federal Court ruled today that Lina Joy, a Muslim convert to Christianity, must get permission from a Sharia court in order to have her religion changed on her identification card. The Associated Press and Reuters both report on the long-awaited decision from Malaysia's highest civil court. Writing for the majority, Judge Ahmad Fairuz upheld the refusal by the National Registration Department to change Joy's identification card. He said: "She cannot simply at her own whims enter or leave her religion. She must follow rules."

Dissenting, Judge Richard Malanjum, the only non-Muslim on the panel, said that it was unreasonable to require Joy to go to a Shariah court because she could face a fine or sentence to a rehabilitation center for apostasy by that court. He wrote: "In my view, this is tantamount to unequal treatment under the law."

Shariah courts in Malaysia have jurisdiction over civil, family, marriage and personal rights of the country's Muslims. A DPA report on the case points out that Islamic courts in each of Malaysia's 14 states have different rules. Only one state has provisions for Muslims to convert. Joy herself is in hiding with her Catholic fiance. So long as her conversion is not recognized, she can marry her fiance only if he converts to Islam. (See prior related posting.)


Anonymous said...

May be she should emulate the converted to Christian Afghani man who find peace in Europe.

I am sure many European countries would accept her willingly without any question asked.

Anonymous said...

Of all the--

>>She cannot simply at her own whims enter or leave her religion. She must follow rules

I wasn't aware there were rules governing how you must feel about higher powers. [/dry]

Anonymous said...

I agree that she considers finding her peace in Europe. In Malaysia, the so called "Freedom of religion" as stated in its Constitution is only for display at the book shelf. This is a serious violation of human rights bearing in mind that Malaysia is a signatory to the UN's declaration.

CrypticLife said...

Well, you know, "There is no compulsion in religion". Or at least I'm told the Qu'ran states that.

Anonymous said...

To leave her religion, she must also leave her country? What a nonsensical suggestion. As a Malaysian, she should try to improve the situation in her country of birth, not just turn into a Yellow.

To go to the Shariah Court to seek permission, she'll be arrested as an apostate and her case will just end there, with her being detained.

This is a Human Rights issue and an errant/political interpretation of our Constitution, which enshrines "the freedom to practice one's own religion". Everyone should encourage Lina Joy to vigorously persue this angle.

Tie her to a log and throw her into the river. If she sinks (and drowns), then she can leave the religion...

Sounds familiar? That was during the Salem witch trials, hundreds of years ago... and now we have this in 2007, in Malaysia, a supposedly secular, progressive Islamic state, 50 years after independence from The British.

But hey, if Saddam has to show proof that he has destroyed his non-existent nuclear/chemical weapons or risk invasion by the US, why can't a small country like Malaysia take a leaf from that book in this case?

True Malaysian said...

We should read the judgment as a whole. You should not cite only part of the judgment that may cause misunderstanding.

There is no issue of whether Lina has right to change her religion considered by the court.

The issue is only procedural. Whether the National Registration Department (NRD) has power to change the religous status of a person in the Identity Card. The court say no to that question. It is not the NRD to decide the status of religion of a person. The power belongs to court of law. And in the case of Lina who was bornt as Muslim, the power to determine whether she had renounced Islam is Shariah Court. There are precedents when the shariah court made declaration that certain person are no longer muslim.

There are parties blowing the issue to incite unrest. Don't be emotional.

Anonymous said...

Yes there is punishment for apostacy. This concern dignity of Islam.

In Islam, muslim are bound by rule. If a muslim later on regret being bornt as muslim, then dare to face the rule. It's pretty small compared to what he had done.

There is no absolute choice or freedom in our life. Can you have choice not to die?

billposer said...

true malaysian

What you say is false. In 13 of the 14 states of Malaysia, the shariah courts do not provide any way for a Muslim to convert away from Islam. In these, it is a criminal offense, and those who attempt it are routinely punished or sent to "rehabilitation" camps in an attempt to coerce them to remain Muslims. It is therefore not true that this is a purely administrative decision and she just has to apply to the proper court.

A Proud Malaysian said...

@True Malaysian:

Stop faking. This whole case has been turned into a procedural ruling on how to get "Islam" removed from your NRD and not a judgement on the actual rights of a Malaysian as enshrined in my beloved Constitution. Instead of ruling according to the spirit of the law, they chose to rule this as a "User Guide". In my eyes, this does not provide proper justice. In my eyes, justice has not been served.

As I've written, this ruling is like asking to "tie her to a log and throw her into the river..." similar to jumping down the Petronas Twin Towers to see if you are really invincible...

As for the Shariah Courts approving as you've said, I agree with "billposer"; this may be an exception rather than the rule. A one in a million exception; 25 approvals for 25 million people in Malaysia sounds about just right?

I have a personal friend whose case is almost similar to Lina Joy's. She is currently having similar problems. She was born a non-muslim, converted to marry a muslim, divorced and now wants to marry a non-muslim. I have also heard of three other similar cases but I chose to discount them as being "heard from friends of friends", but this strikes very close to home - my personal friend with a very genuine and related case. And this is in Selangor, mind you...

So, say what you want. Until and unless you have to experience it yourself, you won't know how rotten this whole thing is in Malaysia...

The late Dr. Martin Luther King would have been a good African had he chosen to leave the US then. And what would have been the state of the American Civil Rights movement today had he done this?

This case is not a case of "defending your religion", it is about "defending The Constitution of Malaysia". Yes, there are Islamic "parties blowing the issue to incite unrest". And, they are being very emotional about it.

I want a more secular Malaysia with Islam being the official religion. But I also want a more balanced interpretation of The Holy Koran by Shariah Courts, not the skewed interpretations that Al-Qaeda has been doing.

I guess I can be considered a "Truer Malaysian"?

Have fun defending your position.


Anonymous said...

We are currently on vacation in Europe, and will also travel to two African countries soon.
Is there any financial funds people can contribute small sums to to help Miss Lina Joy, since we read that she had to give up her job because of her conversion in 1990 to Christianity from Islam?