03/14/2007, 00.00
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Woman battles against the “forced” conversion of her children to Islam

Her husband, recently converted to Islam, petitions Islamic Courts for divorce; his wife, a Muslim of Indian origin, wants their case heard before a civil court and asks for custody of their two children.

Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A women of Indian origin, resident in Malaysia, is battling against the custody of her children being given to her husband, a recent convert to Islam, who has petitioned the Islamic Courts for divorce.  According to Sharia Law, enforced in the country for Muslim citizens, in separation cases children are entrusted to the “better half” in other words the Islamic half, in this specific case to the husband; as a result Islam will become their religion.   


Muhammad Shafi Saravanan Abdullah converted to Islam May last. He petitioned an Islamic tribunal for divorce from his wife, R Subshini. The woman then turned to the Appeals Court in an attempt to have their case heard by a civil tribunal, but her petition was turned down.   Thus it will be the first time that a non Muslim appears before an Islamic Court.


Ms Subshini, 28, wants alimony from her husband and custody of their two children of 3 and 1 years of age.   “Both want to dissolve their marriage – explains appeal court Judge Suryadi Halim Omar - but the appellant's [Ms Subshini's] objection, merely on the grounds that the Shariah Court was set up only for Muslims, made no sense”. The judge said it was Muhammad Shafi's right to annul his marriage in the Islamic court instead of the civil court. In fact in Malaysia there are two legislations: Islamic law and constitutional law which often enter into conflict with each other above all in family law cases.  Ethnic minorities such as Chinese and Indians, fall under the jurisdiction of the civil courts.


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