KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 21 — An interfaith group called today for new legislation and government policies so that Malaysians would not have to go to court to correct their religious status on paper.
The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) welcomed the Court of Appeal’s recent decision to allow the appeal of Rosliza Ibrahim, who was born out of wedlock to a Muslim father and a Buddhist mother, for a legal declaration that Shariah courts do not have jurisdiction over her.
“The Cabinet and Parliament must take steps to formulate an inclusive policy and enact relevant laws respectively to resolve disputes faced by people like Rosliza Ibrahim,” said MCCBCHST in a statement.
“Citizens shouldn’t have to expend money or be made to go through the courts simply to have their true religious identity recognised. The administrative process to resolve such disputes must also be effective, responsive, accessible and fair,” it added.
MCCBCHST said many individuals have approached it over the decades because they have been wrongly designated as Muslims by the government.
“They are designated as such despite never having professed Islam all their lives. It must be emphasised that these are not cases of people wanting to leave or renounce Islam, but cases where they are not even Muslims in the first place,” it said.
In the case of Rosliza, the 35-year-old woman is seeking a legal declaration that Shariah laws do not apply to her because she has grown up as a practising Buddhist all her life.