lady was converted by father, not at welfare home

November 23rd, 2009 by poobalan | View blog reactions Leave a reply »
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Few days ago, we read about the lady who claimed she was converted at the age of seven while staying in a welfare home. Today, the Welfare Department said that her father was a convert who converted the children. Now she has to go through an arduous process of changing the religious status before can continue her life with husband and children.

Housewife S Banggarma was converted to Islam by her father and not by state religious authorities as alleged, said welfare department director-general Meme Zainal Rashid today.

Previously, the 27-year-old mother of two claimed that she had been unwittingly converted at the age of seven when residing at the Taman Bakti welfare home in Kepala Batas, Penang.

NONEIn a statement, Meme (right) said the Penang state welfare department had investigated the case after it was highlighted in the media.

According to records, she said Banggarma was converted to Islam by her natural father along with her other siblings on Nov 30, 1983.

This was stated on the conversion acknowledgment letter by both her mother and father filed with Islamic authorities in Rompin, Pahang.

“She was only placed in a welfare home from March 1990 by court order under the Juvenile Courts Act of 1947 for her own protection, after she was found wandering aimlessly in Sungai Petani, Kedah,” said Meme.

NONE“The accusation that she was converted to Islam while under the care of the welfare department has been proven to be false.

“The documentary evidence proves she was already a Muslim before she was placed in the welfare home,” she added.

Banggarma (left), whose Muslim name is Siti Hasnah Vangarama Abdullah, said she discovered her Muslim status when seeking to register her marriage in 2000.

As to the current religious status of Banggarma, Meme said: “It is now in the hands of the Penang Islamic authorities.”

‘Free to turn apostate’

The Penang Islamic Council (MAIPP) president Shabudin Yahaya confirmed that they are also investigating the case.

“As far as we are concerned, she is a Muslim. Whether she is practising or not, is not the question. What matters is that she has taken the Shahadah or the ritual testament of faith.

NONE“But Hasnah (Banggarma) is free to turn apostate and leave the Islamic faith, though she will have to undergo the standard procedure,” he said.

Shabudin said that the procedure may involve counselors from the Penang Islamic department who will provide counseling and ascertain her claims.

However, the MAIPP president cautioned that this process is not to encourage those who want to leave the Muslim faith, but the procedure exist for cases such as this.

He likened Banggarma’s case to the Fatimah Tan case earlier this year, where Muslim convert Siti Fatimah Tan Abdullah was allowed to renounce Islam and revert to her original religion of Buddhism.

On the status of her current marriage, Shabudin said this has to be decided by the Syariah courts, as legally Banggarma is considered a Muslim.


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