Malaysia: Christian’s right to convert from Islam upheld by court

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Christians in Malaysia

A Malaysian court in a landmark ruling upheld the right of a Malaysian citizen to convert to Christianity from Islam.

In line with details, an unprecedented ruling was made by a Malaysian court, which sustained the right a Christian convert from Islam. This ruling has been widely applauded by country’s Christians.

According to this ruling rights of a Christian converted from Islam have been upheld. In the wake of sheer hostility, towards the conversions from Islam, the court’s ruling comes as an extraordinary verdict in the Malaysian history. The court basically reaffirmed right of religious freedom of the Malaysian citizens. Religious Freedom has been guaranteed in the Article 11 of the constitution of Malaysia.

The plaintiff, Rooney Rebit, who had filed a petition in the High Court in Kuching, Sarawak state of Malaysia, maintained in his petition that “his belief in Jesus was a fundamental human right. The High Court agreed to his statement and thus upheld legal rights of a Christian converted form Islam. During the case hearing, Yew Ken Jie, the judge who heard the arguments said, “He is free to exercise his right of freedom to religion, and he chose Christianity.”

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Moreover, Judge Yew Ken Jie, ruled that Rebit could not be declared a professing Muslim because he had became a Muslim when he was underage. However, she said that, Rebit became a Christian at the age of 24, when he was mature enough and aware of the decision he had made.

The claimant Rebit’s parents had converted to Christianity from Islam, when he was just eight years old. Prior to conversion, his Islamic name was Azmi Muhamad Azam Shah. Later in 1999, he got baptized and embraced Christianity.

As a general trend, cases involving conversion of Muslims to Christianity have met with opposition while many a times, charges of apostasy have been brought against Christian converts from Islam.

While remarking about this landmark ruling, Rooney Rebit, lawyer, Chua Kuan Ching, applauded the decision and said that he hoped that the Malaysian National Registration Department would not challenge the judgment.

“In previous conversion cases involving minors, the courts did not go far enough to state what happens when the child reaches adulthood. So this is a different decision because the judge is saying that he has the right to religious freedom, according to the Constitution.”

On the other hand, the decision has been warmly welcomed by the Association of Churches in Sarawak. “We call upon the federal government [in Kuala Lumpur] to honor and give effect to the guarantee of religious freedom as provided in the Malaysia Agreement [which formed the basis of Sarawak and Sabah state’s union with Malaysia] and uphold the constitutional rights and fundamental liberties accorded by the federal constitution to all citizens of Malaysia.”