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Syariah Court allows convert to renounce Islam May 8, 2008

Posted by beritaman in Uncategorized.
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The Syariah Court in Penang has allowed a Chinese convert to renounce Islam in a rare decision today.

Apostasy, or renouncing the faith, is one of the gravest sins in Islam and a very sensitive issue in Malaysia where the Islamic courts have rarely allowed such renunciations and have also jailed apostates.

Syariah Court judge Othman Ibrahim said he had no choice but to allow an application by cook Siti Fatimah Tan Abdullah to renounce her faith and return to Buddhism.

“The court has no choice but to declare that Siti Fatimah Tan Abdullah is no longer a Muslim as she has never practised the teachings of Islam,” Othman told a packed courtroom.

“I order the conversion certificate to be nullified,” he added.

Siti Fatimah or Tan Ean Huang, 38, said she had never practised Islamic teachings since she converted in 1998 and only did so to enable her to marry Iranian Ferdoun Ashanian.

The couple married in 2004 but since then her husband has left her following which she filed for the renunciation.

Othman said it was clear from witnesses and the evidence presented that Siti had continued to practise Buddhism even after her conversion.

He rebuked the state Islamic religious council for not counselling and looking after the welfare of new converts.

“In this case, it is clear that the council has failed to live up to its responsibilities and the outcome is clear for all to see,” he said.

Siti said she was happy with the court’s decision.

“I’m relieved that the matter is finally settled after two years and I am now looking forward to doing something with my life again,” she said.

The Islamic syariah courts operate in parallel to civil courts here but apply specifically to Muslims.

The court’s verdict comes amid racial and religious tensions in multiracial Malaysia, where minority religious groups fear their rights are being undermined, even though the country is traditionally seen as moderate.

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