What MPs say on apostasy

May 9th, 2008 by poobalan | View blog reactions Leave a reply »
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As MPs offered their views on apostasy, Zahid provides some details. He mentions that on Negeri Sembilan has law outlawing apostasy. So, if you want to convert out, best hope is Penang.

Secondly, Ms Tan was given counselling and was asked to consider her decision, but she prevailed.

Should they be allowed to leave Islam?
Rahmah Ghazali | May 8, 08 4:57pm

http://malaysiakini.com/news/82542

As expected, there were mixed responses on the suggestion to draw up a specific law to deal with apostasy from several MPs interviewed by Malaysiakini in Parliament yesterday.

MPs from the ruling coalition and the opposition had different takes on how the government should handle the apostasy issue which was raised by Mohd Puad Zarkashi (BN-Batu Pahat) on Tuesday. The Batu Pahat MP made a call to implement a specific law following MCA president Ong Ka Ting’s suggestion last week to allow non-Muslims who had converted to Islam to leave the faith if their marriage to Muslims ended in divorce.

His call was echoed by Nasharuddin Mat Isa (PAS-Bachok) who also stressed that besides having a law on apostasy, the authorities should make the Syariah law clearer on the subject.

Here are some responses from MPs when met at the Parliament lobby:

Fuziah Salleh (PKR-Kuantan): When someone embraces Islam, it is due to conviction. Not because the person wants to marry a Muslim and it’s not out of convenience. This shows the contradiction that they’re allowed to leave Islam now that they are divorced. If they embrace Islam because of conviction they should stay. Otherwise, I wouldn’t blame the person who wants to leave the faith, but I’d blame the surroundings especially her/his partner for not educating him/her enough about Islam.

Liew Chin Tong (DAP-Bukit Bendera): If people embrace Islam by will of marriage, they should be given a choice to choose their faith when the marriage ends.

Karpal Singh (DAP-Bukit Gelugor): I think you have to go by the freedom of religion in the constitution. Whoever converts, they have the right to renounce the religion to go back to his or any other religion. If they were to rehabilitate the apostates, that is putting an obstacle in the way of freedom of religion. The Syariah court already says someone can leave Islam but with a green light from them. I think they’re going on the principle: Once a Muslim, always a Muslim, which I think that’s wrong.

Mahfuz Omar (PAS-Pokok Sena): It is up the Syariah court to decide whether they can renounce their religion or not. They have to obey the court’s decision whatever the outcome is. The people who embraced Islam through marriage, however, should whole-heartedly have faith in Islam and the responsible ones around them should educate them about the religion so in the future, their children will not be lost as to what religion they should be embracing.

Shafie Apdal (BN-Semporna): We cannot force someone to embrace Islam. Religiously speaking, they have to be willing to embrace Islam. In Malaysia, the official religion is Islam, as stated in the constitution. It’s not freedom of religion, but it’s the freedom to practise any other religion besides Islam. But when it comes to apostasy, it is not spelled out clearly. We need to make an in-depth research why they want to renounce Islam in the first place. Rather than stopping them to renounce the faith, it’s better to help them by addressing the problems they have and help solve them.

Razali Ibrahim (BN-Muar): If someone wants to convert to Islam, they have to be willing to embrace it and not by force. If the time comes, and if the person feels like he wants to convert, it is not by law and it’s between them and God. With a law, you can maintain the relationship with the community. The problem in this Islam is, the people who renounce Islam after the marriage ends, converted to Islam in the first place to obey the law because they cannot have inter-marriage where husband and wife not embracing the same religion.


Zahid: Accept Syariah Court’s decision on convertsource

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians of all races and religions should accept the Penang Syariah High Court’s decision to allow Muslim convert Siti Fatimah Tan Abdullah to renounce Islam and officially revert to her original faith.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is in charge of religious affairs, said there was no law at the federal level to bar a convert from renouncing Islam. “Only one state, Negeri Sembilan, has such law; Penang does not have it,” he said when asked to comment on Siti Fatimah’s case.

Zahid also said Siti Fatimah had underwent counselling and the advisory council had also asked her to reconsider her decision, but to no avail. “She has not practiced Islam since 1999,” he said.

In a landmark ruling, the Penang Syariah High Court here allowed an application by Muslim convert Siti Fatimah, 39, to renounce Islam and officially revert to her original faith. The decision by Perlis Syariah Court chief judge Othman Ibrahim, who presided over the case when he was based in Penang earlier, makes this the first case of its kind in the country whereby a living Muslim convert was allowed to renounce Islam since the Syariah Court Civil Procedure (State of Penang) Enactment 2004 came into force on Jan 1, 2006. He granted Siti Fatimah a declaration that she was no longer a Muslim, and ordered the defendant, the state Islamic Religious Council (MAIPP), to cancel her certificate of conversion to Islam.

Opposition Leader Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said that a person’s faith was something that was accorded to every individual.

“It is her right to return to her original religion. “The state islamic religious council should show more concern over the welfare of Muslim converts like Siti Fatimah,” she said.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng described it as “a welcomed move”. He said that the freedom of religion was provided under the Federal Constitution and as such, was the right accorded to every Malaysian. “This is a judicial decision and should be respected. “But then again some quarters, especially if they are non-Muslims, are bound to ask if the Syariah Court should pursue such cases,” he said. He said it was more important, however, to ensure justice for all Malaysians regardless of their faith.


MCA hails court decisionsource

KUALA LUMPUR: The MCA has welcomed the Penang Syariah High Court’s decision to allow Muslim convert Siti Fatimah Tan Abdullah to renounce Islam and revert to her original faith.

“This is a historic decision. It is a major step for a progressive, multi-racial and multi-cultural Malaysia. The MCA has always emphasised that religion is a personal matter and that it is the right of every Malaysian to choose his or her religion, as enshrined in the Federal Constitution. “It was Siti Fatimah’s right to embrace Islam and likewise, it is also her right to return to her original faith. This is a matter for her to decide and no one else,” MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting said in a statement. He added that the Penang Syariah High Court’s decision should be emulated by the other states to ease the predicament faced by other Malaysians for decades. “It is hoped that with this decision, the cases of affected Malaysians would be resolved,” he added.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said Malaysians of all races and religions should accept the decision. Zahid, who is in charge of religious affairs, said there was no law at the federal level to bar a convert from renouncing Islam. “Only one state, Negri Sembilan, has such law, and Penang does not have it,” he said.

Opposition Leader Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said it was Siti Fatimah’s right to return to her original religion. (But) the council should have more concern over the welfare of Muslim converts like her,” she added.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng described the judgment as a welcome move. He said freedom of religion was provided for under the Federal Constitution and, as such, a right accorded to every Malaysian.

PAS vice-president Nasharudin Mat Isa said renouncing Islam was forbidden, unless one had been forced to embrace Islam under duress. “If one has embraced Islam out of one’s own free will, then one must be subject to Islamic law, and the law forbids the renouncing of Islam because it touches on one’s faith in the religion,” he said.

Sisters In Islam programme manager Norhayati Kaprawi said unresolved conversion issues have been going on for a long time and people had hoped that the judiciary and the authorities involved would resolve them. “Our position is – once a person does not wish to remain in the religion, there is no point for the authorities to stop the person from opting out. This landmark case complies with the Islamic principles and the Federal Constitution, which guarantee the freedom of religion,” she said.

The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism said religious freedom was something dear to all. Its president Datuk A. Vaithilingam said: “A person should have the freedom to profess and practise his or her religion without these administrative hurdles, enforced counselling and having to wait years for her own faith to be officially recognised.”

Bishop Dr Paul Tan, the Christian Federation of Malaysia’s chairman maintained that a person could go to the civil court, when he was not professing the religion, to get a similar decision. “We strongly believe that every individual has a moral right which is guaranteed by our Federal Constitution to choose a religion,” he said.

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1 comment

  1. animuthu says:

    rise all NGO like IFC fight against syariah court