Malaysian Woman Not Allowed to Convert to Hinduism

Posted on August 5, 2010

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A housewife questioning the validity of her conversion to Islam when she was seven years old failed in her bid to have her case heard by a civil court.

Justice Yaacob Md Sam dismissed Siti Hasnah Vangarama Abdullah’s originating summons with costs yesterday after ruling that the High Court did not have the jurisdiction to hear her case.

“The action brought by the plaintiff is of a subject matter exclusively for the Syariah Court,” he said in his decision.

Siti Hasnah, 28, named as defendants Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in his capacity as Muslim Welfare Organisation (Perkim) chairman, Perkim officer Raimi Abdullah, the Penang Islamic Religious Council and the George Town Kadi.

She had sought a declaration from the court that her conversion to Islam was invalid and wanted it to instruct the National Registration Department to change her religion and her name to a Hindu name in her MyKad.

Justice Yaacob said the defendants had shown sufficient documents that Siti Hasnah’s parents had converted to Islam in Pahang in 1983 and subsequently converted their five children.

“The court agrees with the defendants that either the parents or a caretaker has the right to determine the religion of a child or children of minor age. This is a universal right of a parent, irrespective of what the religion is,” he said.

He also said the act by the parents in placing Siti Hasnah at the Ramakrishna Orphanage did not mean that they had allowed her to practise Hinduism.

Justice Yaacob therefore ruled that Siti Hasnah has been a Muslim since her parents converted and is still a Muslim to date.

Siti Hasnah, who was accompanied by her husband S. Sockalingam, 32, said she would go all the way to get a declaration that she is not a Muslim.

“I am not a Muslim, I was born a Hindu and I will die a Hindu,” she said outside the court.

Her counsel, Gooi Hsiao Leung, said Siti Hasnah had indicated that she wanted to appeal against the court’s decision.

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Posted in: Asia