|May 16, 2008|
M’sian muslims protest ruling on renunciation of Islam
|PENANG (Malaysia) – A GROUP of Muslims in Malaysia’s northern Penang state staged a protest on Friday to denounce an Islamic sharia court’s rare ruling allowing a Chinese convert to renounce her faith. Last week the Penang Sharia Court allowed 38-year-old Siti Fatimah Tan Abdullah, or Tan Ean Huang, to renounce Islam and return to Buddhism. Siti, a cook, told the court she had never practised Islamic teachings since converting in 1998 to marry Iranian Ferdoun Ashanian.
The couple married in 1999 but her husband left her months later and she filed for renunciation two years ago.
Hizbut Tahrir Malaysia, an Islamic hardline group, gathered outside the court and submitted a memorandum urging a judicial review of the decision.
‘We outrightly disagree with the court decision as it is against Islamic laws. In Islam, a person who insists on leaving the religion must be punished with death,’ the group’s president Abdul Hakim Othman told reporters.
Apostasy, or renouncing the faith, is one of the gravest sins in Islam and a very sensitive issue in Malaysia where Islamic sharia courts have rarely allowed such renunciations and have also jailed apostates.
Islam is the official religion of Malaysia, where more than 60 per cent of its 27 million people are Muslim Malays.
The Islamic sharia courts operate in parallel to civil courts but apply specifically to Muslims. — AFP
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