ADVERTISING
 
Monday, May 21   Sign in or Register
 
Evangelical Focus
 
Flecha
 
ADVERTISING
 
 
FOLLOW US ON
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud
 

Newsletter
Newsletter, sign up to receive all our News by email.
 
 

POLL
State and Religion
Should religious symbols be displayed in buildings of the public administration?



SEE MORE POLLS
 

 
TOP 10 MOST VIEWED



Good news for Christians
 

Malaysia: Muslims are ‘free to choose Christianity’

Cases of conversion in Malaysia have been plagued by official dissension and charges of apostasy by Muslim authorities challenging verdicts by secular courts in Sharia tribunals.

SOURCES World Watch Monitor KUALA LUMPUR 31 MARCH 2016 11:19 h GMT+1
malay bible, christians, law, converstion, islam malaysia, A Malay Bible. / WWM

In a landmark ruling last week a Malaysian court upheld the rights of a Christian to convert from Islam, World Watch Monitor informed. 



The judgment establishes a precedent in a country where religious conversions, particularly from Islam to Christianity, have been steeped in controversy.



The verdict reaffirms the supremacy of the Federal Constitution, which under Article 11 defends every Malaysian citizen’s right to freedom of religion.



For Rooney Rebit, the plaintiff, the decision could not have come at a more opportune time than in Holy Week: he was asking judicial authorities to declare that his belief in Jesus Christ was a fundamental human right.



The High Court in Kuching, Sarawak state, duly agreed. The judge, Yew Ken Jie, said: “He is free to exercise his right of freedom to religion and he chose Christianity.”



Rebit was born into a Christian family in 1975 but his parents converted to Islam when he was eight years old. His Muslim name was Azmi Mohamad Azam Shah.



In 1999, Rebit embraced Christianity and was baptised.



In her decision, Judge Yew ruled that Rebit could not be considered to have officially professed Islam, because it was not his choice to embrace the religion. But when he became a Christian at the age of 24, he was mature enough to make a conscious decision.



 



APOSTASY



Cases of conversion in Malaysia have been plagued by official dissension and charges of apostasy by Muslim authorities challenging verdicts by secular courts in Sharia tribunals.



The most prominent suit involved Lina Joy who converted from Islam to Christianity in 1998 at the age of 26; her application to have her conversion legally recognised by Malaysian courts was rejected in 2007 after a six-year legal battle.



There have been other cases where one parent has converted children born into a different faith community to Islam, when the appeals of the other parent, usually the mother, have been brushed aside by Islamic authorities who espouse the supremacy of Islam.



In a country with two parallel legal systems, appeals to secular courts to right such wrongs are inevitably referred to the Sharia authorities, where non-Muslim lawyers are barred from practising.



In Rebit’s case the significant difference was that he was not challenging his conversion to Islam; for if he had done so, the case would have had to be judged by the Sharia court - because secular courts have ruled that they do not have jurisdiction on Islamic issues.



Rebit, in his application, asked that he be officially declared a Christian, and for the Sarawak Islamic Religious Department and Sarawak Islamic Council to release him from the Muslim faith. He also wanted the court to compel the Government’s National Registration Department to change his name and religion on his identity card and its records.



Sarawak state’s Islamic religious authorities did not object to issuing the letter releasing him from his faith, but the registration department had insisted on a letter of release and order from the Sharia Court. But Judge Yew, in her decision, ordered the National Registration Department to make the changes to Rebit’s’s identity card.



She held that Rebit’s case was not one of jurisdiction, but raised constitutional issues regarding his right to religious freedom. “He does not need a Sharia court order to release him from Islam, because freedom of religion is his constitutional right and only he can exercise that right.”



She added: “His conversion to the Muslim faith was not of his own volition but by virtue of his parents’ conversion when he was a minor. He is not challenging the validity of his conversion as a minor. But having become a major, he is free to exercise his right of freedom to religion and he chose Christianity. The National Registration Department had not acted fairly towards the applicant by insisting on a letter of release and order from the Sharia Court.”



 



RULING UPHOLDS CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS



Rebit’s’s lawyer, Chua Kuan Ching, welcomed the decision and hoped that the National Registration Department would not appeal the judgment. “In previous conversion cases involving minors, the courts did not go far enough to state what happens when the child reaches adulthood. So this is a different decision because the judge is saying that he has the right to religious freedom, according to the Constitution.”



The Association of Churches in Sarawak applauded the ruling for protecting the fundamental right to freedom of religion, especially “with Holy Week upon us and Easter nearing”:



“We call upon the Federal Government [in Kuala Lumpur] to honour and give effect to the guarantee of religious freedom as provided in the Malaysia Agreement [which formed the basis of Sarawak and Sabah state’s union with Malaysia] and uphold the constitutional rights and fundamental liberties accorded by the Federal Constitution to all citizens of Malaysia.”



Sisters in Islam, a civil society group committed to promoting democratic rights within the framework of Islam and universal human rights, also welcomed the decision. Their organisation, which has come under criticism from Islamic authorities for its opposition to attempts to prosecute Muslims for attempting to leave Islam, said the judgment reaffirmed the supremacy of the Federal Constitution.



“As such, it is our duty to honour these rights equally and fairly, without regard to race or religion. Where our legal system provides for the right of conversion, it should not be the case that in reality the practice of these rights are denied, or made nearly impossible, to certain religions or races,” it said in a statement issued yesterday [Monday, March 28th 2016].



It also added: “Acting in the interest of our country and its people does not conflict with the principles of Islam as Islam is a religion of compassion and tolerance … Faith cannot be imposed through enforcement. Instead, faith is contingent upon free will. Islam itself means submission to the will of God – not the will of men.” The organisation said the judgment was a reminder to all Malaysians of their right to practise their faith without coercion from the state.



 



BACKGROUND



The latest ruling offers relief to the beleaguered Christian community, who make up nine per cent of the 30 million population. They have increasingly felt their faith under attack; in recent years Bibles in the Malay language have been seized, churches and the Catholic Herald newspaper barred from using the word ‘Allah’ to describe God, and places of worship desecrated.



For about eight years, Malaysia has been ruled by the right-wing Barisan Nasional party, led by Prime Minister Najib Razak, who managed to win a second term in 2013, though with a narrow margin, pitting Muslims against minorities.


 

 


0
COMMENTS

    If you want to comment, or

 



 
 
YOUR ARE AT: - - Malaysia: Muslims are ‘free to choose Christianity’
 
ADVERTISING
 
 
 
AUDIOS Audios
 
Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation

Are Christians called to make a difference in environmental care? What has creation care to do with "loving our neighbours"? An interview with the Global Advocacy and Influencing Director of Tearfund.

 
Kathy Bryan: Online sex trafficking in the USA Kathy Bryan: Online sex trafficking in the USA

“Prostitution is nobody’s dream,  it’s a very traumatic lifestyle”, says Kathy Bryan, director of the Elevate Academy. She mentors former victims.

 
Christians in politics? Christians in politics?

What is the role of Christians serving in politics? An interview with Auke Minnema, the new General Director of the European Christian Political Movement (ECPM).

 
Michael Ramsden: Communicating the Gospel in today’s societies Michael Ramsden: Communicating the Gospel in today’s societies

RZIM International Director Michael Ramsden responds to questions about the secularisation of Europe, the role of Christians in public leadership and the new ‘culture of victimism’.

 
Michael Schluter: Relationships are the key to build Europe Michael Schluter: Relationships are the key to build Europe

The economist summarises the manifesto “Confederal Europe: Strong Nations, Strong Union” and explains why personal relationships should be at the centre of our economy, education and democracy. 

 
Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues

The World Evangelical Alliance Secretary General participated in the Italian Evangelical Alliance assembly (Rome, 8-9 April). In this interview with Evangelical Focus, Bp Tendero talks about the need to listen to local churches and to face challenges like the refugee crisis and climate change. 

 
Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum

Pritchard explains the vision of ELF, comments on the 2015 event in Poland and reflects on what it means to have an "evangelical identity".

 
PICTURES Pictures
 
Analysing current issues in the light of the Bible Analysing current issues in the light of the Bible

At the 2018 Apologetics Forum in Comarruga (Spain), Michael Ramsden, Pablo Martinez, Ruth Valerio and José de Segovia analysed how society and the Bible approach the issues of personal identity, integrity, sexuality, pop culture, and environmental care.

 
European “Bridges to Inclusion” gathering 2018, in Riga European “Bridges to Inclusion” gathering 2018, in Riga

The network of Christian ministries working for the inclusion of people with disabilities, celebrated its tenth continental meeting in Latvia with the participation of 12 countries.

 

 
Coexistence in the church - a model for society Coexistence in the church - a model for society

“Gospel, identity and coexistence” were the themes of the General Assembly of the Spanish Evangelical Alliance. Two days in Palma de Mallorca to reflect about the role of evangelical churches in society.

 
'Ungi kulimi changana' 'Ungi kulimi changana'

Educator and journalist Jordi Torrents shares images of the Sekeleka social centre in Mozambique. About 50 children live there, many with some kind of disability. All photos were taken with permission.

 
The President in an evangelical church on Christmas Eve The President in an evangelical church on Christmas Eve

For the first time, the President of Portugal attended a worship service in an evangelical church. It was in Sintra, on Christmas Eve.

 
Stamps to commemorate the Reformation Stamps to commemorate the Reformation

Poland, Lithuania, Namibia and Brazil are some of the countries that have issued special stamps on the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 theses.

 
VIDEO Video
 
What are the cultural roots of the transgender movement? What are the cultural roots of the transgender movement?

Peter Saunders, CEO of the Christian Medical Fellowship (UK) summarises>the philosophical framework that made the transgender movement so popular.

 
Pitfalls that Christian artists should avoid Pitfalls that Christian artists should avoid

Delta David Gier, Conductor and Music Director, on some of the dangers for artists.

 
Why are Christian leaders particularly vulnerable to sexual temptation? Why are Christian leaders particularly vulnerable to sexual temptation?

“The reasons why somebody might have sex with a prostitute are very different from the reasons why somebody might want to have an affair with a member of their congregation”. An analysis by John Stevens, National Director of FIEC (UK).

 
Be safe on social media Be safe on social media

A video about the way traffickers target teenage girls online, produced by anti-slavery gorup Abolishion.

 
In Mission In Mission

A 360º lyric video about how all followers of Jesus Christ are called to serve God. Duo in Spanish (Alex Sampedro) and Portuguese (Marcos Martins).

 
Heart Heart

A short animation film by Swiss cartoonist Alain Auderset tells the message of the Bible in four minutes.

 
Philip Yancey interview Philip Yancey interview

An 8-minute interview with Philip Yancey on the role of Christians in a secularised society. Recorded in Madrid, September 2016.

 
An interview with Prof. John Lennox An interview with Prof. John Lennox

New atheism, the definition of "faith", Christianity in Europe, the role of the Bible in mission, and the need to listen more. An exclusive interview recorded at "Forum Apologética" (Tarragona, Spain) in May 2016.

 
 
Follow us on Soundcloud
Follow us on YouTube
 
 
WE RECOMMEND
 
PARTNERS
 

 
AEE
EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.
 

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.