Forced Conversion of Children to Islam

Anguished mom knocks on PM’s door
S Pathmawathy |Malaysiakini Apr 17, 09 2:09pm LINK

Her three young children were forcefully converted to Islam by her estranged husband. And M Indira Ghandi is taking her plight straight to the doorstep of the Prime Minister’s Office.

Calling on newly-minted Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak to explain the matter, the 35-year-old kindergarten teacher said: “He talks about an united Malaysia. But what does this mean when only the Muslims have rights.”“I am not anti-Islam and I am not saying that they (Muslims) are doing wrong things but why do non-Muslims have to suffer like this?” she asked as tears welled up in her eyes.

Indira’s marriage is now is a limbo after her husband, K Patmanathan, 40, converted without her knowledge on March 11.

She claimed that her husband, who has since assumed the name Mohd Ridzuan Abdullah, had also converted their three children – aged one to 12 – on April 12 without their presence and using only their birth certificates.

“He took my baby (their youngest child) from me and ran away… I have not seen her ever since and I don’t know how she’s doing,” lamented Indira.

As for her marriage, the teacher, who also claimed to have been physically abused, said the couple were married for 16 years and had been facing problems for a long time.

“It started so many years back that I can no longer keep track of when it started.

“Recently he asked for a divorce and I thought to myself that since that was what he wanted, I consented but he did not want to start the process and demanded that I do so.

“So I went to a marriage tribunal and filed for counselling in Ipoh but he never attended any of the counselling sessions,” she said.

Indira claimed that after one particular explosive argument, which also involved her mother and sisters, her husband fled with their youngest daughter, Prasana Diksa.

“When we went to the police station and lodged a report, no immediate action was taken although my baby was still very young and needed to be breast-fed,” she said.

Since that incident, Indira has filed six police reports, with one alleging that she feared for her life because her husband had threatened her.

Indira said the police managed to locate her husband later but only to discover that he had converted the children.

‘I don’t know what to do’
The couple’s two other children – Tevi Darsiny, 12 and Karan Dinesh, 11 – are currently living with Indira, but both have sought refuge with a relative fearing that Islamic officials would take them away.

“I was neither told nor asked about it (the conversion)… I don’t know what to do,” she lamented.

According to Indira, her husband had called her last Wednesday and promised to return her youngest child.

“He asked me to come to the Islamic Department (Jais) in Ipoh and collect my baby because he could not care for her. But he didn’t show up.

“Instead, there was a man waiting there to serve me papers from the Syariah Court granting custody of my other children to him,” she said.

However, she refused to accept the papers as she believed that syariah laws had no jurisdiction over her.

As for her husband’s conversion, Indira said he had spoken about his interest in Islam but she claimed this was related to monetary gains.

“I have no idea what his intentions are… but he mentioned once before that we will get RM5,000 each if we ‘nikah’ (marry according to Islamic rights) and money would also be given on a monthly basis to each of our children for education purposes.

“Over the past couple of days, he kept calling me and asked me to convert to Islam. He told me that I should convert first and then we, as in the whole family, can opt out later and go back to Hinduism,” she said, adding that she wanted to remain a Hindu.

‘I love my wife very much’
Contacted later, her husband dismissed Indira’s allegations as absurd, saying he converted because he was passionate about Islam which he had discovered during his business trips.

Denying that he had physically abused her, Mohd Ridzuan said: “I don’t want to say anything but I love my wife very much… right now, I only want her back.”

Asked why he had converted the children without informing his wife, he replied: “You see, all the children must follow the father’s religion no matter whether he is a Hindu, Christian or Muslim.

Indra Gandhi, “This is not a political issue, this is my family matter and I don’t want to shame my wife,” said the businessman, who has filed for custody of the children with the Syariah Court.

Meanwhile, Indira has sought the help of several legal advisers, non-Muslim organisations and the public.

“This is not only my case, many people are suffering because of this. We are filing for the custody of my children because they don’t want to go to their father, and they (the other party) are rejecting this.

“But the question is even if I can get back my children, will they be Hindu again? Why does it only take a day to convert my children but it is so difficult to return to their old religion?” she asked.

“Don’t I have say in it, when I was the one who carried them for nine months… aren’t they my children too? What exactly is my right and my children’s rights?

“The government say this is a country where it is free to practice your own religion but what is the right of a non-Muslim in this situation?” she asked.

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Children’s conversion: Rulers’ help sought

Malaysiakini LINK
S Pathmawathy | Apr 22, 09 6:45pm
An embattled Hindu wife whose three children were converted to Islam by her estranged husband is seeking the intervention of the Conference of Malay Rulers to solve the matter.

She would be seeking the rulers’ help through the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) which said today that it would approach the rulers to help solve the predicament of the mother, M Indira Ghandi.

Council president A Vaithilingam said the council would be writing to the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal requesting that the Conference of Malay Rulers intervene in this particular case.

“The rulers are responsible for the religion of Islam in their respective states and the King is responsible for the country.

“As we are all their subjects, so we call upon the rulers to see that there is justice and fair play for all of us,” he said.

The inter-religion affairs council – which held a two-hour meeting this morning with 35-year-old Indira – expressed their disappointment with act of the syariah court in Perak which granted custody of her three children to her husband without her knowledge.

“The children were born to a couple married under civil law, therefore until the civil court has decided on a divorce, if there is one and on alimony and custody, the children cannot be converted,” said Vaithilingam.

“The conversion of the children, to us, is illegal as we believe that all those who are below 18 years of age should be allowed to decided on their faith only when they old enough,” he added.

Children’s schooling affected
Indira’s plight came about after her husband, K Patmanathan, 40, converted to Islam without her knowledge on March 11 and kept it a secret until an argument between the two exposed the matter.

In an exclusive interview with Malaysiakini, Indira recounted how her husband had snatched their one-year-old toddler Prasana Diksa from her during the heated argument.

She said he then fled along with a bag containing the birth certificates of their two older children, Tevi Darsiny, 12, and Karan Dinesh, 11, as well as documents pertaining to her educational qualifications.

VaithilingamIndira claimed that her husband, who has since assumed the name Mohd Ridzuan Abdullah, had then converted the three children on April 12 without their presence and using only their birth certificates.

Her husband then attempted to pass her the syariah court notice granting him custody of the two older children but failed as Indira refused it accept it. The two older children are staying with Indira.

Redzuan had then sent the notice to the children’s school and succeeded in halting Indira’s efforts to transfer the two older children to another school.

“The way things are going I don’t know if this (case) is going to be the last,” lamented Vaithilingam.

“Indira is living a nightmare and she is in fear as she is expecting them (the Islamic Affairs Department officials) to take her children away from her,” he said.

‘Promised so many times’
When the issue hit headlines last week, the cabinet appointed a five-minister committee to find an amicable solution as there are no clear guidelines under the law pertaining to the conversion to Islam of minors born in a civil marriage.

The ministers tasked to look for a long-term solution are Ministers in the Prime Minister’s Department Koh Tsu Koon (Unity), Jamil Khir Baharom (Islamic Affairs) and Nazri Abdul Aziz (Law and Parliament) as well as Human Resources Minister Dr S Subramaniam and Women’s, Family and Community Development Minister Shahrizat Jalil.

Vaithilingam, who met the five ministers yesterday, said they told him that they were sympathetic to Indira’s predicament and gave their assurance that it would be solved soon.

“But this assurance has yet to materialise[…]we don’t want to reconvene again with another man or woman who has become another victim,” said Vaithilingam.

He reiterated the MCCBCHST was not against Islam but stressed that the conversion process should be more stringent in tandem with the reform of existing family laws.

“We were promised so many times that there would be reforms to family laws to ensure that such a situation will not reoccur. Yet here we are again[…]no attempts have been made to make the changes although there has been a lot of talk of reform,” said Vaithilingam.

He said grey areas under the law dealing with conversion should have been resolved ever since the controversy following the death of famous mountaineer M Moorthy, popularly known as ‘Everest Moorthy’, who was buried with Muslim rites despite his family’s claim that he had not converted.

Fast solution needed
The council appealed for a fast solution to resolve Indira’s matter as the pressure had taken a heavy toll on the young family.

“Frankly, since the council had been formed in 1983, we have achieved very little,” said Vaithilingam adding that he hoped that Indira’s youngest child, who is with her father, would be reunited with the mother.

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Additional Relevant Report – Conversion row: Hindu Sangam turns to new cabinet S Pathmawathy | Malaysiakini Apr 17, 09  LINK

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One Response to “Forced Conversion of Children to Islam”

  1. Hinduism Beliefs Says:

    What a sorry story. We don’t have to generalize, though. Many of us tend to think that all muslims are the same.

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