Lina Joy Loses Her Appeal For Religious Freedom

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

Media Player 

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. 

Related Stories:
Lina unhappy with decision
CJ: NRD’s requirement is reasonable
Judge: It’s illegal and unreasonable
Mixed reaction to court decision

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 30 May 2007:

Malaysia’s Crisis of Faith


Muslims gathered for a vigil outside Malaysia’s Palace of Justice awaited the verdict on Lina Joy’s case, May 30, 2007 – Tengku Bahar/AFP/Getty Images (Time magazine caption)

– 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?

15 Responses to “Lina Joy Loses Her Appeal For Religious Freedom”

  1. keanloong Says:

    goes to show how shallow minded some of these people we have put in power. this is nothing bout lina, but more likely a political decision swung by the gov to appease the m***y hardcores who are majority u**o supporters.

    imagine what the m***y supporters will do to the gov if lina joy has won her appeal, especially with the rumored GE around the corner.

    on another note bro think the person you’re hinting should be this one instead.

  2. kairil Says:

    islam is the official religion of malaysia… DO NOT say anything if you dont know about ISLAM!!!!!! this issue is a matter amongst muslims.. and you should not interfere with our islamic decision

  3. keanloong Says:

    dear kairil

    upon reading your comment i almost posted a one page reply filled with various quotations to you.

    however i realised it would be pointless to speak sense to a narrow minded zealot who does not even know the very meaning of Islam you claimed to be a staunch defender of.

    a sad day if the religion you hold in high esteem has to resort to man-made laws and ruling to keep its believers from choosing their own path.

    matter amongst muslims? should not interfere? excuse me while i laugh at the naivety of that statement.

  4. Ms. Song Says:

    The “superficiality” of “pious” “Islam upholders” has only been augmented through the Lina Joy case.

    It is as if they are saying that Islam is about a name on one’s IC, a surface statement of “I am Malay and *duh* Islam”… What about the spiritual context that also encompasses personal choice and decision? Has that nothing to do with anything?

    Lina has already declared she is Christian. SHE HAS EMBRACED THAT RELIGION PUBLICALLY. SHE HAS REJECTED, RENOUNCED ISLAM! In other words, SHE IS NO LONGER ISLAM. And still they decide “Oh, no no you can’t “change your religion” because of apostasy and bla bla bla”. Thus they effectively agree that Islam is about the name on one’s IC.

    The Syariah doesn’t punish people who try to leave Islam. Tell me, did yuor propher Mhd ever preach that, dear Islam people? Did he ever agree that a person was Islam by document, or by acceptance and belief of Allah that encompasses the soul and spirit?

    The enshrouding blindness and the blatant disrespect for the right of a human in Malaysia is sickening to say the least.

    Ironic that students today are forced to memorise on of the 35 moral nilais-“Kebebasan untuk Beragama”. Ironic.

    Hit a reply if you support what I said.

  5. Scott Thong Says:

    It is argued that Lina Joy cannot renounce Islam as she is a Malay, and Malays are by Constitutional definition followers of Islam.

    Yet Lina Joy declares she is NOT a Muslim. Therefore, the conclusion is that she is NOT a Malay.

    After all, one can become a Malaysian Malay simply by being a Malaysian citizen born to a Malaysian citizen, habitually speaking Malay, following Malay customs, living in Malaysia or Singapore, and being Muslim.

    Therefore… Genetics has NOTHING to do with being part of the Malay race in Malaysia! A mutant Caucasian space alien could become Malay if he had the rigth criteria, of which only ‘being born to Malaysian citizen’ he cannot control or modify!

    So Lina Joy quits being Malay, THEN quits being Muslim. Simple enough, and within even the current law! If I remember right, even Dr. M himself had said that if a Malay wants to leave Islam, they should simply forfeit their special Malay rights.

  6. kairil Says:

    dear keanloong,

    i do not mean to provoke any argument, but it seems that you are having a grudge against us…

    malaysia did well surviving our multiracial community, and lina joy’s case was provoking our peace….

    i do not care what the heck you say about me… but in this case, it is not about lina joy, it is about provoking the syariah court in this country.

    you are viewing this matter through one point of view. if she win this case, then the consequences would be very bad…

    and one more thing, our religion DO NOT has to resort to man’s law…. you don’t know what the hell you are saying. if you don’t now about ISLAM, don’t just say what you wish…

    sorry for the harsh word… but i would not say anything unpleasant towards your faith, because we MUSLIMS are not allowed to do so… so please DO NOT insult our faith…

  7. Jamie Says:


    Classic Islamist doublespeak.

  8. kairil Says:

    -NOT a political decision-

  9. Scott Thong Says:

    More specifically, not an OVERT and OFFICIALLY ACKNOWLEDGED decision that can be definitively proven to be influenced by political parties or personalities. Note that this does not include the deciders’ own personal political considerations, which of course cannot be definitively proven either.

    Due to the controversial nature of this subject, this post is now closed for comments.

    Yeah, right! Hahaha! Keep on talking peeps. It’s what keeps the world passably sane.

  10. Neo Says:

    interesting case… people are not free to change their religion …hmmm

  11. Scott Thong Says:

    Even better, its a one-way street.

    Enter Islam can, exit cannot.

    Best of all, being born to Muslim parents makes you automatically Muslim.

    = Never can exit Islam even though you never chose to actually enter it.

  12. emisar Says:

    When the Chinese or Indian (Buddhist or Hindus) want to embrace Islam, the whole world of parents, relatives and lawyers will try to block, surpress by whatever means just to save(?) him or her. I don’t understand this.

  13. simon thong Says:

    They do so becoz they know that there is no turning back; once in, can’t get out. But that man, following his emotions, want to marry her, and he has to convert or cannot marry her. Thus, he converts. Later, he finds that his emotions have misled him, so he wants OUT. No turning back. Death brings no exit either.

  14. sayer Says:

    as usual muslim said other don,t understand n disrespect them ,but it is themself that do it.we married to the people we love not they religion. freedom of religion don,t exist in malaysia.

  15. Adifferentview Says:

    sayer, when you marry someone, you can’t exclude their family, community, religion and other aspects of culture. The HUGE difference is that when you marry a Muslim, you have taken a one-boat trip over to the other side. That boat you took no longer exists. You BELONG TO THEM, body, soul and spirit. They marry you and they will bury you.

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