Apostasy law would need states’ nod, says Jamil Khir
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 17 — Any proposed law on Muslim apostasy would require the consent of individual states as Islamic matters come under the purview of the Malay Rulers, Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom said today.
“This [apostasy law] has to be referred to the state first. Whether it is to be implemented or not depends on the state,” the de facto minister in charge of Islamic affairs was quoted as saying in a Bernama Online report today.
Jamil was commenting on Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harunussaini Zakaria’s earlier call for laws to be created to penalise Muslims looking to leave Islam.
Apostasy and proselysation became the latest source of friction between Malaysian Christians and Muslims after the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) raided the Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC) in Petaling Jaya on August 3, claiming there were attempts to convert Muslims.
Muslim groups are planning a rally against Christians “challenging the sovereignty of Islam” for this Saturday, which could further raise religious tension that has intensified in recent months after allegations of proselytism of Muslims by Christians.
Called Himpunan Sejuta Umat (Himpun), or Gathering of a Million Faithful, the rally is being organised by various right-wing groups such as Perkasa with the backing of both Umno and PAS Youth.
Christian-Muslim ties in the country have been strained since the December 31, 2009 High Court ruling affirming the Catholic Church’s constitutional right to use the term “Allah” in its newspaper.
Muslim anger at the decision led to a series of attacks on houses of worship, which left one church gutted following a petrol-bombing.
The confiscation of Malay-language bibles by the Home Ministry earlier this year also threatened to reignite the “Allah” row, before Putrajaya ordered the release of the “Al-kitab” ahead of the Sarawak state election in April.