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    » 07/02/2007, 00.00

    MALAYSIA

    Whipping, prison and fines for anyone who tries to convert Muslims



    In Kelantan, the only Malaysian state run by an Islamic party, penalties for anyone who proselytises among Muslims have been increased. The new law is the strictest in the entire federation. After the Lina Joy affair, the more radical circles fear “mass conversions.”

    Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The only state in Malaysia run by an Islamist party, the opposition Pan-Malaysia Islamic Party (PAS), has approved stiffer penalties to deter people from trying to convert Muslims to other faiths. Under the revised law passed by the northern Malaysian state of Kelantan, anyone found guilty faces a maximum penalty of six lashes with a rattan cane, five years in prison and a fine of almost us$ 3,000. The previous maximum penalty was two years in prison and a fine of RM 5,000 (US$ 1,400).

    Hassan Mohamood, who heads Kelantan's Islamic affairs committee, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the stiffer laws are useful "as a form of deterrence".

    Proselytising of Muslims is forbidden under federal laws, but the recent case of Line Joy, a Malay-Muslim woman who sought legal recognition of her right to pick her religion of choice, raised fears among some in Malaysia over mass conversion.

    Kelantan authorities are not new to taking extremist steps. Last year the PAS government passed a law giving Muslims a cash bonus worth US$ 2,700, plus a US$ 270 monthly subsidy, free housing and a car if they married and converted indigenous animist people.

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    See also

    12/06/2007 MALAYSIA
    Lina Joy affair sparks apostasy debate among Muslims
    Legal experts and Islamic scholars and leaders square off before a large audience in a public debate over the conflict that pits Sharia against civil law in conversion cases. Some believe the issue has not been settled since the Qur’an is silent as to how apostasy should be punished and that what punishment that does exist “is man-made”. Others insist that any dialogue must be preceded by “respect for religion and its experts.”

    06/12/2005 MALAYSIA
    Malaysia's Islamic fundamentalist party faces ballot box test
    By-election in Penglakan could be the beginning of the end of Islamic party 15-year hold on power.

    30/05/2007 MALAYSIA
    Kuala Lumpur refuses to recognise Lina Joy’s conversion to Christianity
    The Federal Court has referred the case of Lina Joy, a women seeking legal recognition of her conversion from Islam, to the Islamic courts. The country’s contradicting laws are laid bare: religious freedom guaranteed by the Constitution cannot co-exist with Islamic law, which is increasingly imposed on the nation’s citizen’s even non-Muslims. Outside the court hundreds of demonstrators shout “Allah-o-Akbar”.

    31/05/2007 MALAYSIA
    Lina Joy: “Freedom of conscience is at risk in Malaysia”
    The Christian woman whose conversion the Federal Court refuses to recognise speaks. Yesterday’s sentence practically obliges her to remain a Muslim and to marry a man of her same faith. Malaysian bishop: “An inhuman and uncivil decision”. Other minority religions express their concern. Catholic parliamentarian: “the government needs to clarify all doubts regarding the Constitutions prevalence over Sharia”.

    01/06/2007 MALAYSIA
    A Muslim can renounce his faith, but only as set out by Sharia
    Malaysia’s Chief Justice explains while upholding the Federal Courts ruling on the Lina Joy case, the Christian convert forced to face an Islamic court judgement. The Premier Badawi excludes that political pressure influenced judges, but admits the governments need to deal with the issue of non Muslim citizens and Islamic Courts.



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