Their excuse was that these temples were unlicensed and squatting on government land. Without it, there is no hope that the situation will improve on its own. The official reason given by the Malaysian government has been that the temples were built "illegally". Despite the fact that conversion to Sunni Islam is allowed, the opposite is a criminal offence. Religious intolerance has been a pressing concern in Malaysia for some time now. As the report identifies, “the fatwa went further in proclaiming that the state had a duty to ensure their conversion to Sunni Islam.”. [92] While in Malacca, black paint was splashed on the outer wall of the Malacca Baptist Church in Durian Daun. At the end of March 2019, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), in cooperation with the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief (IPPFoRB), published a new report scrutinizing the protection and enjoyment of the right to freedom of religion or belief in Malaysia. The study shows the interfaith marriage is commonly practiced by most native The husband converted to Islam on 19 November 2002. MALAYSIA 3 International Religious Freedom Report for 2018 United States Department of State • Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor higher numbers of non-Muslims. [88], Malaysian Muslims have also grown more anti-Hindu over the years. The Religious Police used more than 50 officers to ensnare these men in a sting [31], The states of Negeri Sembilan, Perlis and Selangor allow Muslims to leave Islam after a process of counselling, in which they are repeatedly asked to repent, and if they refuse, a sharia court may declare the person no longer a Muslim. The Mufti stated that the father had the right to unilaterally convert the infants to Islam. The High Court ruled that the custody order issued by the syariah court "did not change the interim civil court order". ", The first Islamic call to prayer or Azan (also spelt Adhan), known as "subuh" (or dawn), occurs between as early as 4.30 AM to as late as 6.15 AM (depending on which region, city and state) with the exact time drifting throughout the year. [52] This discrimination received religious legitimacy in 1996 when the Fatwa Committee for Religious Affairs issued a religious opinion (fatwa) that upheld the “orthodoxy” of Sunni Islam and branded Shi‘a Islam as “deviant.” In doing so, it prohibited Shi‘a from spreading their beliefs and distributing any electronic or print resources that espoused Shi‘i principles. Government in general supports Islamic religious establishment and it is the official policy to "infuse Islamic values" into the administration of the country. Conversion to other faiths is allowed in Malaysia once one has reached an age of majority. The government had earlier argued that the church's application is frivolous and had urged the court to throw it out but Madam Justice Lau Bee Lan disagreed and allowed the application by the Titular Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur, Datuk Murphy Pakiam, for leave to sue the government regarding the use of the word "Allah" to proceed. The Guardianship of Infants Act for the Federal Territories differed from that of Sabah in one aspect as it used the term "parent or guardian" and not "both parents or a guardian" as in AMLE Sabah. Second, the Constitution also provides that Islam is the religion of the country but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony (Article 3). According to the committee, "The architectural planning and design will conform to the Liturgical requirements complementing the ambience of Putrajaya's lush greenery and landscape. [85], The president of the Consumers Association of Subang and Shah Alam in Selangor had been helping to organise efforts to stop the local authorities in the Muslim dominated city of Shah Alam from demolishing a 107-year-old Hindu temple. Where decisions of the syariah court affect a non-Muslim, he or she can seek recourse in the secular courts which, in theory, overrule the syariah courts as the Syariah courts are limited in their jurisdiction by Article 121 of the Federal constitution. Online newspaper MalaysiaKini reported that 863 people had applied to leave Islam from 2000 to 2010. A person does not have such freedom, and so cannot have a say in the judgement given in a syariah court. Conversion is deemed so sensitive in Malaysia that even the priest who baptised her refused to give her a baptismal certificate. General interpretation about the freedom of religion as described in the constitution in Malaysia is that a person has a right to practice his or her religion freely. [68], The Catholic Church began its challenge of the government gag order prohibiting it from using the word "Allah" in its Herald-The Catholic Weekly- through a judicial review. However, the situation in Malaysia goes far beyond “religious intolerance.” Indeed, the report makes it clear that many religious minorities face discrimination and persecution. As of September 2007, their case is pending in the Federal Court after an appeal by Subashini. [10] Subashini is also seeking to stop or declare void the conversion of their children. Practicing Christians are at times even registered as Muslims because of forced conversions, marriage arrangements, or clerical errors. Wong was buried next to her husband in the Chinese cemetery in her birthplace of Simpang Ampat, Alor Gajah. On 30 May 2007, the Federal Court, in a 2–1 decision, dismissed Joy's appeal. The fact that Malaysia practices mixed religion makes it have a unique Malaysian culture. The opposition leader at the time, Lim Kit Siang, is now actively seeking support to declare Mahathir's move as unconstitutional by repeatedly clarifying that Malaysia is a secular state with Islam as its official religion as enshrined in the Constitution. [citation needed] Among these are Chinese funeral processions that are often accompanied by drums and cymbals, and other rituals not exclusive to the Chinese. A non-Muslim person who wishes to marry a Muslim person must convert to Islam before the marriage can be recognised as legally valid. In January 2008, children's Christian books with illustrations of prophets were confiscated from several bookstores around the country. For example, suppose a person earning RM 50,000 owes a tax of RM 3,000 and donates RM 1,000 to zakat, the whole of the RM 1,000 is directly deducted from the RM 3,000, whereas donations to other approved beneficiary would permit only a deduction of the RM 1,000 against the RM 50,000. The same arrangement was long held even during British colonial rule. Zakat (or tithe) monies, however, are paid by Muslims directly to official organisations run by state governments. Approximately nine percent of the population of Malaysia are Indians, of whom nearly 90 percent are practising Hindus. The issue of forced religious conversion has also been at the forefront. The court awarded it with access for the father. However, the strength of multi-racial can only be harvested if the country fulfils racial equal rights. In recent years, visas for foreign clergy no longer are restricted, and most visas were approved during the period covered by this report. A two-thirds majority vote in Parliament is required for constitutional amendments in Malaysia. The remaining population consist of 19.8% Buddhist; 9.2% Christian; 6.3% Hindu; 1.3% adherents of traditional Chinese religions and 0.4% other religions. The temples follow Saivite tradition from West India for t… Malaysia has a population of just over 31 million. He failed to return the children to her on 25 May 2003. Muslim citizens cannot convert to other faiths without consent of a Shariah court, Malaysia’s top court ruled on Feb. 27. Indeed, as the report confirms “Ethnicity and religion have often been utilized by political parties to advance their agenda.”. The various organisations holding watching brief in this case now call themselves loosely Article 11 after the article of the Federal Constitution guaranteeing freedom of religion. As the case has gained prominence various religious organisations, human rights organisations and women's issues organisations have registered watching briefs. This is called the Faraid or the Islamic law of Inheritance. The other is sharia (syariah, Islamic law). [citation needed] But how loud the volume of the PA system in the mosque should be, is another matter. Participants included representatives from the Malaysian Islamic Development Department, the Malaysian Ulama Association, and the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST). In January 2010, two separate prayer halls (surau) in Muar became targets of arson attacks. [citation needed], A local daily, The Star reported that a proposal by Kepong MP Dr Tan Seng Giaw to regulate the Azan so that it will not be too loud or disturb non-Muslims caused a stir in the Dewan Rakyat. In 1998 after a controversial incident of attempted conversion, the Government stated that apostates (i.e., Muslims who wish to leave or have left Islam for another religion) would not face government punishment so long as they did not defame Islam after their conversion. The issue was raised by the UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, following a visit to the country in September 2017. [7] Dr. Ahmad went on to make a distinction between promoting relativism of religions and co-operation with people in a "multi-racial, multi-religious, multi-cultural, and multi-lingual" society, and that the latter was necessary to build a strong country.[7]. In response to the proposed construction of a temple in Selangor, Muslims chopped off the head of a cow to protest, with leaders saying there would be blood if a temple was constructed in Shah Alam. There they hashed out the framework for a commission that could advise the relevant parties on the many interfaith issues that arise in pluralistic Malaysia such as conversion from Islam to another faith, which is deemed as apostasy in Malaysia. The new pre-planned capital of Malaysia, Putrajaya, features a grand mosque as a prominent feature of the planned community. In 1999 the High Court ruled that secular courts have no jurisdiction to hear applications by Muslims to change religions. The issue was raised by the UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, following a visit to the country in September 2017. The report identifies six main challenges pertaining to the right of freedom of religion or belief in Malaysia that are closely related to the special status of Islam and the consequential disadvantaged position of other religious groups: Over the years, many Shi’a followers have been arrested for merely attending closed religious gatherings. Justice Abdul Aziz and Justice Arifin Zakaria agreed that the NRD was correct in rejecting Joy's application and said it was up to the Syariah Court to settle the issue (Justice Gopal Sri Ram said it was null and void. [32], In the states Kelantan and Terengganu, apostasy by a Muslim is a crime punishable by death and forfeiture of property; however, federal law prohibits the death penalty from being carried out. The high court ruled that the father's right to decide the religion and upbringing of the infant is allowed "subject to the condition that it does not conflict with the principles of the infant's choice of religion guaranteed to her under the Federal Constitution". [6] In 1984 the New York Philharmonic Orchestra had to cancel its visit to Malaysia after the Malaysian Information Minister demanded that a composition by American-Jewish composer Ernest Bloch, be eliminated from their program. RELIGIOUS CONVERSION: A CASE STUDY OF MUSLIM CONVERTS IN SABAH, MALAYSIA Suraya Sintang 1(PhD) , Khadijah Mohd. Religious Conversion; Chinese Muslim; Malaysia; Ethnic Identity; Identity Negotiation Issue Date: 29-Mar-2006 Citation: LAM YUEN YU, JOY (2006-03-29). [7] In a sermon prepared by the Federal Territory Islamic Affairs Department (JAWI) it was stated that Jews are to be regarded as the main enemy of Muslims. (Photo credit: MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images), Malaysia is a predominately Muslim country with 61.3% Sunni Muslim (data published by the Malaysian Department of Statistics in 2010, up to date data is not available). Ochab works on the topic of genocide, with specific focus on persecution of religious minorities around the world, with main projects including Daesh genocide in Syria and Iraq, Boko Haram atrocities in West Africa, and the situation of religious minorities in South Asia. [63][64], On 10 December 2007, Malaysian authorities banned the Malay-language section of a Catholic weekly newspaper, The Catholic Herald due to its use of the word Allah, the name for God which Christians had used for hundreds of years in the country. Among others, it identifies Shi’a and Ahmadiyah communities as targeted groups. Distribution of other materials such as books or tapes translated into Bahasa Melayu (local Malay) or Indonesian is also discouraged. This was affirmed in the Court of Appeal, where the court also ordered Subashini to take her case to the Syariah Court. In its judgement, it stated that "the right of religious practice of the two infant children shall be exercised equally by both parents" based on the Guardianship of Infants Act 1961. [41] The Religious Affairs Department had the Tampin Syariah Court issue an injunction to put her burial on hold when they found out she was Malay; the Negeri Sembilan Islamic Affairs Council and Negeri Sembilan Islamic Affairs Department then filed an ex parte application with the Syariah High Court in Seremban the next day regarding her burial. ). [39] Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Justice Richard Malanjum dissented. Islamic conversion and custody conundrum in Malaysia Child custody and conversions put Islamic and civil courts at odds with non-Muslims on the losing end of … The police had traced the message to a lady who had met Harussani Zakaria, mufti of the state of Perak in a meeting. Lina Joy, who was born Azalina Jailani, converted from Islam to Christianity, arguing that it came under her right to freedom of religion under Article 11 of the Constitution of Malaysia. Most Christian and a few other religious groups in Malaysia put a standard disclaimer on literature and advertisements stating "For non-Muslims only".[50]. In April 2000, the state of Perlis passed a sharia law subjecting Islamic "deviants" and apostates to 1 year of "rehabilitation" (under the Constitution, religion, including sharia law, is a state matter). In Selangor, the Selangor Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Among Muslims) Enactment 1988 was signed by the Sultan of Selangor into law forbidding non-Muslims from using the word "Allah"[4][5]. The rationale for this is that Islam is considered intrinsic to Malay ethnic identity, which culturally and historically is ruled by a Sultan who is a Muslim. However, Malay-language Christian materials are available. [89], Laws in the country, especially those concerning religious identity, are generally slanted towards compulsion into converting to Islam. About 60% of Malaysians practice this faith. Leaving Islam in Malaysia poses social and legal challenges – but a new generation is demanding change", Boston News about Lina Joy conversion case, "Malaysia probes atheist group after uproar over Muslim apostates", "G25: Apostasy a major sin, but Constitution provides freedom of worship for Muslims too", "Freedom of religion by religion for religion", "Negotiating Apostasy: Applying to "Leave Islam" in Malaysia", Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, "Syariah Court Decides Nyonya Tahir Not A Muslim", "Dropping the Muslim status officially in the Shariah courts", "Sarawak CM reminded about promise to amend Shariah laws on apostasy", "Lina Joy's Case: Court Will Give Decision As Fast As Possible", "Seremban Syariah Court declared Nyonya Tahir not a Muslim", https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2006/01/24/nyonya-tahir--a-nonmuslim, Synopsis of Circumcised Heart by Miriam Adeney, Statutory Declaration by Nur'aishah Bokhari, "Malaysia Rules Muslim Man Can Convert to Christianity", https://en.mehrnews.com/news/116422/Malaysia-hard-place-for-Shia-Muslims, "Malaysian Shiites face growing persecution", "Ignorance, extremist Sunnis fuelling anti-Shia sentiments in Malaysia, says academic", https://www.mei.edu/publications/malaysia-and-its-shia-problem, "ISLAMIC COUNCIL IN MALAYSIA ISSUES NOTICE TO AHMADIYYA MUSLIM JAMAAT PREVENTING USE OF CENTRAL MOSQUE", "Atheists face death in 13 countries, global discrimination: study", "Minister urges govt to hunt down atheist group", "Atheists in Malaysia should be hunted down, minister says", "Malaysia Bans Biblical Epic 'Noah' – ABC News", "Today's Stock Market News and Analysis from Nasdaq.com", "Security increased at Christian churches as Allah row divides Malaysia", "Malaysia Christians challenge ban on word 'Allah' - Christian News on Christian Today", "Malaysian church, weekly newspaper sue government for banning use of word 'Allah, Confiscating of Christian Literature – Council of Churches of Malaysia, Christians say fed up with Najib administration, "Jais raids Bible Society, Malay bibles seized", "Selangor Islamic authorities raid Bible Society of Malaysia, 300 copies of Alkitab seized", "Red faced Home Ministry explains seizure", "Latest seizure proves 'Allah' verdict affects Sabah, Sarawak Christians too, DAP MP says", "Penang mufti outlaws 40 words to non-Muslims", "Check law first, Karpal asks Penang government over decree banning 'Islamic words, "Non-Muslims can use the word 'Allah' in Penang", Mariner Azhar: I have not renounced Islam. It even ruled that the infants were "still Hindus at the time of conversion" and that the father should have consulted the mother before converting the infants. [44] [19][20] The police inaction was criticised by Women's Aid Organisation[21] and both governing and opposition politicians. [citation needed], In 2004 the Bar Council of Malaysia journal "Infoline" carried an article which questioned the need for the Azan as it was disturbing to non-Muslims and not needful. And, even now, the church she attends asked her to sign a declaration stating the church is not responsible for her conversion. The Government opposes what it considers deviant interpretations of Islam, maintaining that the "deviant" groups' extreme views endanger national security. However, money paid to other causes in the name of other religions under similar circumstances is given only income tax relief, and such relief is given only if the particular beneficiary has obtained approved status from the Malaysian Government, which is difficult in practice. On 5 November 2006, a group of Muslims gathered outside the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes, Silibin, in the town of Ipoh, Perak to protest an alleged conversion of Muslim Malays out of Islam. Another test is that one must follow the Malay culture. The allegation was spread via a text message that claimed the church would baptise a group of Muslim Malays. Once Islam is on their ID, they are treated as Muslims by the government. We envisage the Putrajaya church to be a hallmark of the Catholic community in Malaysia and showcase the rich heritage of the Malaysian Catholics. This has the potential to affect the enjoyment of the right to freedom of religion or belief by other religious groups. The shrine, which had stood at the end of the alley for close to 30 years, was torn down by MPS enforcement officers because according to the council, it was built illegally on government land. In contrast, charities in Malaysia are run privately by voluntary organisations, collecting voluntary donations from the general public, not compulsory tithes – thus the difference in treatment by the government. There are several cases of non-Muslim Massosai married a Hindu man, but her marriage is not recognised by the Malaysian government because of the religion issue. [84] On 21 April 2006, the Malaimel Sri Selva Kaliamman Temple in Kuala Lumpur was reduced to rubble after the city hall sent in bulldozers. Despite this, federal law favors the Islamic faith over any other. Ochab has written over 30 UN reports (including Universal Periodic Review reports) and has made oral and written submissions at the Human Rights Council sessions and the UN Forum on Minority Issues. The Islamic interpretation of the situation is that only the syariah courts can decide who is a Muslim and who is not. Without knowledge of Shamala he then obtained a custody order in the syariah court on 30 January 2003. religious belief by teaching them her articles of faith or by making them eat pork" or she would risk losing her children. It was influential before Islam took over. In January 2014, the Selangor Islamic Religious department (Jais) raided the Bible Society of Malaysia and confiscated 320 Malay and Iban bibles, which catered for Sabah and Sarawak Christians. Two-thirds of the country’s Christian population He also stated that "we need to restore the faith back in them, especially for Muslims. [87] Many Hindu advocacy groups have protested what they allege is a systematic plan of temple cleansing in Malaysia. Over the years, many Shi’a followers have been arrested for merely attending closed religious gatherings. However, the situation in Malaysia goes far beyond “religious intolerance.” Indeed, the report makes it clear that many religious minorities face discrimination and persecution. The mother gained custody of the child on 13 November 1998 and subsequently sued to declare the conversion void. The remainder is accounted for by other faiths, including Animism, Folk religion, Sikhism, Baháʼí and other belief systems. [90], On February 2020, more than a dozen Selayang Municipal Council (MPS) enforcement officers tore down a Chinese shrine dedicated to "Datuk Gong" near Yu Xu Gong temple in Taman Bidara, Selayang. Current Prime Minister, Abdullah declared that Malaysia is an Islamic state, but Malaysia is not a secular or theocratic state. Not all non-Muslim charities are granted tax exempt status, it is only given to registered and approved charities, partly to prevent abuse. Written by Nadia Chevroulet. Federal law still provides for the age of majority as 18. According to the 2010 population census, 61.3% of Malaya people are Muslims, 19.8% are Buddhists, 9.2% are Christians, 6.3% are Hindus, and 1.3% other Chinese philosophies, Taoism and Confucianism. [8]. Follow @EwelinaUO, © 2020 Forbes Media LLC. The legal process of conversion is also unclear; in practice it is very difficult for Muslims to change their religion legally.[24]. That incident had nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; only a rejection of all things Jewish. [13] Teoh Eng Huat's daughter was a ward of the state. The zakat organisations themselves are governed by specific Islamic rulings defining the categories of people who qualify to receive the alms as well as the amount to be paid out by Muslims based on their income. Malaysia is a multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religion country with a population of about 20 million people who practice various religions. 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