Joy, an ethnic Muslim Malay born Azlina Jailani, began attending church in 1990. Eight years later she was baptized. Although the government accepted her name change, it would not replace “Muslim” with “Christian” on her national identification card without an apostasy certificate from a sharia court. “As a Muslim, bound by the shariah laws,” explained government counsel Datuk Umi Kalthum Abdul Majid, Joy “cannot apostasize at will.” If you are born Muslim, you stay Muslim, at least until a sharia court decides otherwise, which is never.Merely to suggest that persons should be permitted to change their religions as they see fit, well, that's just an "attack on Islam." Doesn't it appear that we should start taking all the Muslim claims of creation of a worldwide caliphate seriously? They are taking a reasonably successful country and are making it less free, and therefore less able to maintain itself on the stage. The paranoia of these Muslims is patent.
Joy went to civil court. Her attorney, Datuk Dr Cyrus Das, argued: “the multi-racial and multi-religious people of Malaysia exist in harmony under the guarantees given by a single common document called the Federal Constitution.” In contrast, Yusri Mohammed, head of the Muslim Youth Movement, contended that the constitution “cannot simply be understood as giving unlimited freedom to change one’s religion.”
Alas, Joy lost at the trial and appellate levels. The federal court heard her case last year. She was supported by several NGOs. The government attorney criticized these groups for mounting a “sustained attack on Islam.”
On Wednesday the court, by a two-to-one vote, rejected her appeal. Chief Justice Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim opined: “Apostasy is a matter linked to Islamic laws. It’s under the jurisdiction of the sharia court.” But for Joy to go to sharia court would be to invite criminal punishment as an apostate, something that (non-Muslim) dissenting Justice Richard Malanjum correctly observed was “unreasonable” to require of her.
And people fear the creation of a "theocracy" in the US -- well, show me when our government, under any president, would honor the ruling of a "sharia court" when it comes to questions of the freedom of a person to convert from Islam to some other religion.
I am starting to think a friend of mine is correct -- the impact of religion on political and social affairs is uniformly negative.