It’s official – after months of fighting the courts and the political inertia, Lina Joy has lost her appeal to remove the word ‘Islam’ from her MyKad.
The two Malay Muslim judges voted to dismiss her appeal, while the Sabah & Sarawak Christian judge upheld her appeal. 2 to 1, she lost her case. The Sabah & Sarawak judge is not happy about it.
What do I think about this whole non-freedom of religion? I stated it long, long ago – metaphorically in The Parable of Kampong Kayukayu, and using political comparisons in Apostasy, Treason and North Korea. Dr. Hsu also has an illustrative conversation about the subject.
All around the world, people with open ears are listening in. Or perhaps rather, open eyes are reading their online news and blogs. Even sarcastic and cynical Indonesian bloggers are scratching their heads. You can see the link to Time magazin’s article about it after the Star report.
And now, below is the current report from The Star.
From The Star 31 May 2007:
Federal Court rejects Lina’s appeal in a majority decision
PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court, in a majority decision, has rejected Lina Joy’s appeal to compel the National Registration Department (NRD) to remove the word Islam from her identity card.
The 42-year-old will now have to either subject herself to the jurisdiction of the Syariah Court on whether she is an apostate or seek a review of the Federal Court decision.
Chief Justice Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim ruled that the NRD had reasonably imposed a condition requiring Lina to obtain a certificate of apostasy from the Syariah Court before it proceeds to make the deletion.
The second most senior judge on the Bench, Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Justice Richard Malanjum, however, handed down a dissenting judgment criticising the NRD’s act as “unconstitutional and discriminatory”.
The third judge on the panel, Federal Court judge Justice Alauddin Mohd Sheriff, concurred with the Chief Justice in dismissing Lina’s appeal.
Approached after the judgment, Lina’s lawyer Benjamin Dawson said he was considering filing for a review of the judgment.
Crucial decision in Lina Joy case
Commission to study religious- sensitive cases
Court has yet to decide on Lina Joy’s appeal
Counsel: Islam can’t be renounced at will
The Lina Joy case: Right not infringed on
NRD has right to require apostasy order, says counsel
And the foreign rags are already picking up on this event. Here’s a bit of what Time magazine says:
From Time.com 30 May 2007:
Malaysia’s Crisis of Faith
- In what has been dubbed a blow to Malaysia’s religious freedom, the country’s highest court on Wednesday denied an appeal by Christian convert Lina Joy to make her switch from Islam recognized by law.
- Joy is a Malay originally known as Azlina Jailani, and by Malaysian law her ethnicity automatically makes her a Muslim subject to Shari’a law. In order to make her 1990 conversion to Christianity legal, she needed permission from the Shari’a courts, which consider a renunciation of Islam a major offense. But, since she is still classified as a Muslim by the state, Joy was not allowed to have her case heard by the civil courts. Her six-year-long campaign to convince the civil system to legalize her conversion failed, prompting her appeal to the Federal Court, after the Court of Appeal rejected her claim in September 2005.
- On Wednesday, the Court announced that it had no jurisdiction over the case since it was under the purview of Shari’a law, effectively punting on any attempt to clear up the gray space that exists between Malaysia’s two legal systems. The ruling was greeted by shouts of “God is great” from many in the assembled crowd outside the Palace of Justice in Kuala Lumpur.
- Last November, at a party conference for the Muslim-dominated United Malays National Organization ruling party, one delegate vowed he would be willing to “bathe in blood” to defend his ethnicity — and, by extension, his religion. [Hey, wonder who and what the writer might be possibly be referring to? 5th paragraph from top.]
- After all, what is religious freedom if a 42-year-old Malay woman isn’t allowed to follow the faith of her choosing?