Malaysia: At the Crossroads

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Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | No. 433 | Wed 13 Jun 2007

On 30 May 2007, in Malaysia's Federal Court a panel of three judges
ruled 2 to 1 that Sharia Courts (courts of Islamic law) have
jurisdiction over a Muslim's apostasy (conversion out of Islam).
They were deciding the case of Lina Joy, a Malay (Muslim) convert
to Christianity who wanted her conversion legally recognised. (See
RLP 392, 23 August 2006). So until Lina Joy can get the Sharia
Court to approve her apostasy, 'Islam' will remain on her identity
card and she will be obliged to abide by Islamic laws, including a
marriage law that a Muslim woman can marry only a Muslim man.

The dissenting opinion of Judge Richard Malanjum (the only non-
Muslim on the panel) was that it was 'illegal' and 'unreasonable'
to ask Lina to turn to the Sharia Court where apostasy is treated
as a crime, punishable by fines and detention in Islamic 'prison-
like rehabilitation centres'. The Malaysian Bar Council has also
condemned the ruling saying that no court should have implied
powers to curtail rights that are constitutionally granted, and
whenever there is a conflict the Federal Constitution must prevail.

The Federal Court ruling strips all Malays (constitutionally deemed
to be Muslim) and other Malaysian Muslims (including converts to
Islam who later want to leave Islam) of their fundamental and
constitutional right to religious freedom. The Federal Court ruling
has also emboldened Malaysia's Islamic forces who will doubtless
now move to extend their influence. Malaysia's main Islamic party -
Parti Islam se-Malaysia (PAS) - has already proposed on the basis
of the ruling that apostasy should be made a criminal offence in
every state and punishments should be more severe.

Elections are due in Malaysia before early 2008. Many people are
disenchanted with the ruling party, UMNO, and PAS is hoping to
capitalise. PAS is modernising and softening its image, replacing
turbaned clerics with Western-educated, smartly-suited so-called
'Young Turks', hoping the new image will attract Chinese and Indian
voters. This has nothing to do with policy and everything to do
with marketing - political Islam in a suit is still political
Islam. Please pray that as debate rages around Islam and liberty
Malaysians will - in greater numbers and with greater voice -
demand openness and liberty, which are essential for progress. If
Islamisation is challenged, Islamists will resort to threats,
protests, riots and/or terrorism to try to force appeasement and
extract concessions. If Islamisation keeps advancing, repression
and persecution will escalate and non-Muslims will emigrate, making
reform even more difficult and sending Malaysia backwards. Malaysia
is at the crossroads.


* use this dire Federal Court ruling to awaken Malaysians to the
repressive nature of Islam; to see that it strips them of their
fundamental and constitutional liberties.

* raise up, at every level and in every sphere, leaders with moral
clarity, courage and conviction, and use them as instruments of
his will to lead Malaysia away from darkness.

* bless all Christian ministry, humble witness and missionary
endeavour in Malaysia so that the gospel of Jesus Christ may
spread and transform this nation for the Kingdom and glory of
God. We may plant and water but God alone gives the growth (1
Corinthians 3:6,7) '. . . in you [Abraham] all the nations of the
earth shall be blessed.' (Genesis 12:3 ESV)



On 30 May 2007 Malaysia's Federal Court issued a ruling that makes
Sharia Law (Islamic law) and not the Constitution the supreme law
for Muslims in Malaysia. Thus Malaysia's Muslims can no longer
access their constitutional right to religious liberty. Islamists
have been greatly emboldened by the ruling. While Malaysia has been
progressing economically, for several decades it has also been
gradually Islamising and continued progress requires a degree of
openness and liberty not found in Islam. Furthermore, growing
Islamisation will escalate repression and persecution of non-
Muslims - mostly Chinese and Indian Malaysians - which will lead to
their emigration. This will make reform even more difficult and
send Malaysia backwards. Malaysia is at the crossroads. Please pray
for a merciful awakening.

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The WEA Religious Liberty Commission sponsors this
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issues, and in particular to uphold the Church
where it is suffering persecution.

RL Prayer is moderated by Ron Clough, a commissioner
of the WEA RLC and convenor of the Australian EA RLC.
Elizabeth Kendal researched and authored this message.