Benjamin: Informing Family By Way Of Letter Is Not Comprehensive Legislation on Conversion To Islam Requires Further Consideration

13 April 2008, Oriental Daily News Mr. Benjamin Dawson gave an interview to Oriental Daily News. He was asked to comment on the recent proposal by the Prime Minister to compel all non-Muslims who intend to convert to Islam to inform their family members of the conversion by way of letter. Mr. Dawson viewed this proposal as a positive development. However he felt that this proposal is not comprehensive as it only gives resolution for isolated incidents. “Other than informing family members of the conversion,” said Mr. Dawson, “a more comprehensive resolution shall also consider issues like, if the wife is not a Muslim, how should the religion of the children be decided?” “Embracing any faith including Islam does not involve complicated procedure,” continued Mr. Dawson, “Article 11 of the Constitution provides that every individual has the right to decide on his own religion belief. However in the case of Lina Joy, the Federal Court ruled that she must seek relief from the Syariah Court and not the civil court. This means the Syariah Court has the jurisdiction to deal with the issue of renouncing Islam. In other words, renouncing Islam is more complicated.” “According to the available data, there is not a single instance when an application to the Syariah Court by a Malay Muslim for an order to renounce Islam is successful.”

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