PETIKAN dari akhbar tempatan:
The PM says Islamic authorities should be more understanding in handling conversion issues following numerous high-profile cases that threw Malaysia’s image as a progressive and moderate Muslim country into question.
“I have always told the religious departments to listen to their grouses why they want to leave the religion. We have to be ready to listen and to resolve the problem,” he told reporters on the sidelines of an international Islamic seminar.
“This is not something that cannot be done (leaving Islam). It has happened before. For those who don’t want to be Muslim anymore, what can you do?” Abdullah added.
Malaysia is currently embroiled in tense and emotional debates over recent cases involving Muslims who tried but failed to renounce their religion.
The discussions pit those who believe Malaysia needs to shore up its Islamic credentials with more rigid enforcement against those who want freedom of religion and secularism in the multiracial country where non-Muslims account for about 40 percent of the 26 million population.
Some people such as Lina Joy, an ethnic Malay-Muslim who became the country’s most famous Christian convert, face tremendous challenges to practice their new faith.
Joy had to live in hiding due to threats from religious zealots after she sought redress in a secular court to recognize her new faith.
But the country’s highest court, the Federal Court ruled that it has no jurisdiction over conversion matter and directed her to the sharia Islamic court.
But converts such as Joy know the hurdles they face if they go to the sharia court.
Apostasy, considered one of Islam’s greatest sins, is punishable by imprisonment or a fine under Malaysia’s sharia law. Converts also face being sent to “rehabilitation” centers as in the case of Revathi Masoosai, an ethnic Indian-Muslim who wants to be Hindu.
She applied to the sharia court to renounce Islam and for that she was sent to the rehabilitation center for six months.
Revathi, who was released last week, spoke of being mentally tortured and that she was threatened that her 15-month-old baby would be taken away from her.
She also spoke of being served beef most of the time even though beef is prohibited for Hindus.
Despite her ordeal, the religious authorities still refused to grant her wish to embrace Hinduism.
Instead, she has to continue receiving “counseling.” — KYODO News.