Thursday, May 31, 2007

From Islam to Christianity

A couple of days ago, Malaysia’s highest court rejected Lina Joy’s appeal to have her conversion from Islam to Christianity recognised and to remove the word “Islam” from her identity card. It decided that only the Muslim Sharia court could recognise such conversions, but under Sharia law, conversion is illegal.

Outside the court, 200 protestors shouted “"Allah-o-Akbar" (God is great) when the ruling was announced. "You can't at whim and fancy convert from one religion to another," said Malaysia’s Chief Judge, Ahmad Fairuz. However, it’s now six years since Loy changed her religious affiliation – hardly whim and fancy. She has had death threats, as has a Muslim lawyer who took on her case.

It’s similar to the case of Maria, who is so afraid of her Christian identity being discovered that she kept it a secret, except that her family were demanding her Christian boyfriend convert to Islam before they got married.

I understand these stories demonstrate the tensions that exist within a country, nominally a secular state, where one religion, Islam, is determined to hold onto, and increase, its power. People like Lina and Maria are pawns in the game.

But it does seem weird. Lina is not a Muslim. She has converted to Christianity. However, as long as the courts continue to maintain that she is Muslim on paper, people chant slogans, and are euphoric that she has not been allowed to convert. It’s as though these people are more interested in making her life as miserable as possible than in winning the battle for her soul.


Kult said...

Sad. I'd call this a case of politically personalising religion - until the actual notion of Islam (which doesn't allow forced conversion, or forcing someone to stay muslim) settles under dust.
It's mostly sociopathic the way muslim govts. run their countries.

Autumn said...

It's a sad case indeed and Lina Joy is a brave woman.

I think Malaysia is the only country where a natural-born muslim (ethnic Malay) "cannot" renounce Islam. Its constitution defines a Malay as a person who professes the religion of Islam.

Besides the fear of the public threats, the Sharia Court can also charge and "punish" the convert for apostasy.

Those who are able to, immigrate to avoid retribution. Freedom of religion is only for non-muslims.

Scotty said...

One of the many, many reasons I prefer to be agnostic.

Glenn Ingersoll said...

It's "as though these people are more interested in making her life ... miserable"? What do you mean "as though"? Plainly, it's the case.

Ms Baroque said...

Scotty, you mean like Lina Joy prefers to be Christian? Or like so many northern European Jews preferred to be agnostic in the 40s and 40s?

'Prefer' isn't in it.

Rob, on a tangential note and not to underplay the importance of the subject: Lina Joy is like Mina Loy in a very satisfying way, isn't it!

Ms Baroque said...

30s and 40s, of course I meant.

A sizable minority of Muslims even in the UK are in favour of a Sharia court even here. Terrifying. This is what they mean when they say the Enlightenment is dead.