Religious Freedom Does Not Apply To Muslims Here, Says Retired Judge

Comment: Such a statement coming from a retired high court judge confirms our nasty suspicion that many Muslim judges allow their Islamic beliefs to skew their judgments in the Civil court. Regardless, we have an unambiguous statement that declares that freedom of religion does not apply to Malaysian Muslims (at least to the learned judge).

What a strange legal opinion that suggests that we allow Article 3 (Religion of the Federation) to trump Article 11 (Freedom of Religion) even though Article 3 (4) says “Nothing in this Article derogates from any other provision of this Constitution.” It is the same bizarre rationalization that led one of the Muslim judges to rule that freedom of religion means one is free to practise one’s religion but not free to choose/leave one’s religion.

To my educated Malay friends – Are you going to carry on keeping silence and let such pronouncements go by unchallenged. You have only yourself to blame if in keeping silence you allow such judges to take away your Constitutional right of religious freedom.

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Bernama. November 19, 2008 Link

Religious Freedom Does Not Apply To Muslims Here, Says Retired Judge

PUTRAJAYA, Nov 19 (Bernama) — The concept of religous freedom does not apply to Muslims in the country, a retired high court judge told an international seminar here.

Datuk Faiza Tamby Chik said, as far as enacted law was concerned, it was clear that it was not easy for one to abandon the practices of the faith.

Citing the case of Lina Joy’s renunciation of Islam, Faiza said the high court in its decision ruled that a Malay under Article 160(2) of the Federal Constitution remained in the Islamic faith until his or her dying days.

“The said Malay cannot renounce his or her religion through a deed poll and seek a declaration by virtue of Article 11 of the Federal Constitution,” he said when delivering a working paper entitled, ‘Malay and Islam in Malaysian Constitution’ at the two-day International Seminar on Comparative Laws (ISCOM 2008) which ended today.

Speakers from universities in Sydney, Syria, the Philippines participated at the seminar which was organised by Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia whose speakers also took part.

Faiza is a distinguished Fellow in Faculty of Syariah and Law from the Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia.

On the high court decision, he said the court also held that even if one was a non-Malay and embraced Islam and become a Muslim convert (mualaf) and later decided to leave the Islamic faith, he or she was still required to report and see the relevant State Islamic Authority which would decide on the renunciation of Islam.

He said non-Muslims in the country had wide religious freedom and that the primary limitation on non-Muslims applied to those whose beliefs and religious practices included the propagation of their faith.

However, Faiza said state law may prevent attempts of non-Muslims to proselyte Muslims.

He added that Article 3 of the Federal Constitution provided a balancing clause that other religions might practice in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation.

— BERNAMA

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