Malaysia

Inter-faith group says any amendment to allow unilateral conversion of children to Islam will destroy constitution

An inter-faith group has warned of severe consequences if a suggestion by Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria (pic) to amend the constitution to allow for unilateral conversion of children to Islam is accepted by the government.

The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBHST) vice-president Jagir Singh said the proposal, if allowed, would fundamentally alter the character of the constitution.

"The Federal Constitution was drawn up painstakingly by those responsible after long hours of dialogue and consultations with all stakeholders," Jagir said in a statement today.

"The sanctity of the constitution is also part of Rukun Negara, and all parties must accept and abide by its supremacy," Jagir added.

An article in Utusan Malaysia over the weekend quoted Harussani as saying that Articles 3, 5 and 11 in relation to religion, liberty and freedom should be amended to exclude Muslims.

"The provisions which deal with the religion of children, must be amended or added to exclude Muslims," Harussani was quoted by Utusan as saying.

Harussani said this when commenting on the landmark High Court decision last week, which nullified the conversion of three children to Islam by their father Muhammad Ridzuan Abdullah, a Muslim convert.

The court ruled in favour of the children's mother, M Indira Gandhi, in declaring the conversion unconstitutional as it was not done in her presence or the children.

Harussani also said that non-Muslims should not feel slighted by any amendments to exclude Muslims as this was part of the social contract, which saw non-Malays granted citizenship.

He said the disputes over the religion of a child should have been resolved in the Syariah Court by a Muslim judge instead of the High Court.

Jagir took umbrage at this and said the supreme law in Malaysia was the Federal Constitution while Islamic law only applied to certain cases.

On the social contract, Jagir said it was generally known that in return for citizenship rights to non-Malays, special help in the form of the special position of Malays, for the reservation of quotas as in Article 153 was agreed to, initially only for 15 years. – July 30, 2013

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