Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Malaysian Hindu Fights Muslim Husband Over Right To Decide Son's Religion

Lawyers for a Hindu woman urged Malaysia's highest court to protect her religious rights Monday by preventing her Muslim husband from converting their son to Islam without her consent.

The case is being closely watched because it could set a precedent for inter-religious disputes in this mostly Muslim country, where the Buddhist, Christian and Hindu minorities have voiced fears that courts are unfairly asserting the supremacy of Islam.

Subashini Rajasingam, a 29-year-old clerk, married Saravanan Thangathoray in an ethnic Indian Hindu wedding in 2002. The couple had two sons, Dharvin and Sharvind, now ages 4 and 2, before Saravanan told his wife last November he had converted to Islam.

Subashini attempted suicide and was hospitalized. When she returned home, Saravanan left with Dharvin, whom he claims has also converted to Islam. She then sought a court order to prevent Saravanan from converting Sharvind and from seeking a divorce in an Islamic Syariah court instead of a civil court.

The Court of Appeal outraged rights groups when it ruled in March that Subashini should argue her case in the Syariah court, which has jurisdiction over Muslims. Activists insist Subashini's chances of blocking a conversion would be slim in the Syariah Court.

The Federal Court, Malaysia's highest civil court, began hearing Subashini's appeal against the earlier verdict Monday, with Subashini's lawyers outlining their stance that one parent cannot convert a child to Islam if the other parent objects.

"The husband should be restrained from abusing the judicial system ... to get orders from the Syariah court which will adversely affect the rights of the wife," the lawyers said in a written statement presented to a three-judge panel. "The Syariah courts have no jurisdiction since (Subashini) is not a person professing Islam."

Until the Federal Court rules on the case, Saravanan, 31, cannot approach the Syariah court to convert Sharvind, annul the marriage or formally seek custody of the boys. Subashini currently takes care of Sharvind, while Saravanan has Dharvin, but both parents have not seen their other child since November, Subashini's lawyers say.

Religious issues are extremely sensitive in Malaysia, where about 60 percent of the 27 million people are Muslims. Most minorities have accepted Islam's dominance, resulting in a veneer of harmony hiding simmering tensions. Muslims are largely ethnic Malays, while the minorities are mainly from the ethnic Chinese and Indian communities. (International Herald Tribune)
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

the intentions to islamise the secular laws are made very clear by the Chief Justice. He has the support of the Attorney General And Islam Hadhari is to reign under the hypocrite PM.
Unless we are steadfast in our stand to uphold the Constitution, the end result may be a theocracy. Be forewarn, and if you have doubts asked farish noor.

2:13 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Islam is a compassionate religion, it should not allow the conversion of BOTH the sons.

3:01 AM GMT+8  

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