Posted by: becketfund | March 6, 2009

Malaysia: Citizen Wins Conversion Recognition

KUALA LUMPUR – An Islamic court in Malaysia ruled March 6 that a man given an Islamic name at birth was a Christian, a rare victory for religious minorities in this Muslim-majority nation, the AP reported on March 6. The man whose original identity card listed his name as “Mohammad Shah alias Gilbert Freeman” brought his case to the Shariah court in southern Negeri Sembilan state after the National Registration Department refused to accept he was a Christian. Lawyer Hanif Hassan said that his client, Freeman, was raised by his mother as a Christian, and that his Islamic name came from his Muslim father, who left the family when he was only 2-months-old. Hanif told the Associated Press “The Shariah court ruled that he is not a Muslim. He is not practicing Islam, and he hasn’t applied to be a Muslim,” and Hanif stressed that “This is a rare case but it shows that the Shariah courts are not rigid and are able to help resolve inter-religious disputes.” Malaysia has a dual court system in which Muslims are governed by the Islamic Shariah courts while civil courts have jurisdiction over non-Muslims. Inter-religious disputes usually end up in Shariah courts.

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