Monday, May 14, 2007

Malaysia's converts test freedom of faith

I posted my opinions about Does Islam say Apostates should be Killed a few days ago. I just found this article today, although it is not a new article.

Five days after she declared legally that she had converted from Islam to Christianity, several officers from Malaysia's state Islamic department turned up at the woman's office and arrested her...

While Malaysia is one of the world's most modern and relaxed Muslim countries, its treatment of apostates, primarily those who have given up the Muslim faith, has ignited a heated debate...

The ruling comes amid calls for capital punishment for apostasy, and follows a spate of civil suits by Malaysians seeking official recognition of their decision to leave Islam.

Half of Malaysia's 26 million people are ethnic Malays, who by law must be Muslim, while its Chinese and Indian minorities include Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus and Sikhs.

Why is there a law saying they HAVE to be Muslim? Are they that concerned that they might leave Islam?

Malaysia's civil courts have said they cannot recognise conversions from Islam and refer apostates to the Islamic courts, where sentences for various offences range from caning to jail.

Although such sentences are rarely carried out on apostates, Malaysians who leave Islam can find themselves in a legal limbo, unable to register their new religious affiliation or to marry non-Muslims. Many keep quiet about their choice or move abroad.

This is just wrong. Islam is holding people hostage. They don't live in the US where they can believe what they want to believe. Yes the US has many problems, but I am glad that everyone here has the right to hold their own beliefs, whether Muslim, Athiest, Hindu, Christian, Pagan, etc.

Some groups, including the opposition party Parti Islam se-Malaysia (PAS), want apostasy to be punishable by death. One government cleric said about 250,000 Malaysians had left Islam.

The Koran forbids Muslims to abandon their faith, but it doesn't specify the penalties, said Sohirin Solihin, professor of Koranic studies at Malaysia's International Islamic University.

But traditional writings, or Hadith, associated with the Prophet Mohammad proscribe death.

"The Koran is clear that there is no compulsion of religion but the issue of religious freedom is different for Muslims and non-Muslims. The Muslim understanding of this is different from the Western one," he said.

Oh, so religious freedom is for non-Muslim, not Muslims themselves? They are in it till they die, whether they like it or not?

I am all for everyone having their own path, their own belief. But my path is not yours, and I am against forcing anyone to be on a path that is not for them. And paths do change, look at mine: I grew up as a Seventh-day Adventist, didn't go to any church for years afterward (and was married to a Hindu), then was Muslim for 13 or 14 years. Now I have been going to a Unitarian Church. If someone wants to be Muslim, go ahead. If my kids want to be Muslim someday, that is their own choice. I won't like it, but it is a mother's job not like what her kids do, right? But I will say something if they are intolerant of anyone else's path.

This is the scariest part of the article:

The minister in the Prime Minister's Department for religious affairs, Abdullah Md Zin, declined to comment. His spokesman referred questions to the government's Department of Islamic Development where officials declined comment.

But the department's Web site recommends isolating and counselling apostates and then jailing them if they fail to repent.

"If the person remains an apostate, it is left to the respective authorities to impose the fitting sentence that is death," the department said in its Malay-language "Frequently Asked Questions" section.

A, catch me if you can

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