Malaysian woman allowed to revert to Buddhism

May 8th, 2008 - 1:22 pm ICT by admin  

Kuala Lumpur, May 8 (IANS) In a landmark decision, a Malaysian court Thursday allowed a Chinese woman who had converted to Islam to revert to Buddhism. In what is being described as a first for Malaysia, Judge Othman Ibrahim of a Penang Shariat court, that deals with cases under Islamic jurisprudence, ruled that he had no choice but to declare that Siti Fatimah Tan Abdullah was “no longer a Muslim as she had never practised the teachings of Islam”.

The court criticised the state religious council for not ensuring that Siti Fatimah practised Islam, The Star Online said, describing it as a landmark decision.

Siti Fatimah, who is from Nibong Tebal, is Chinese by birth. In her application filed in May last year to renounce her religion, Siti Fatimah, whose Chinese name is Tan Ean Huang, said she converted to Islam in July 1998 but never practised it.

The woman claimed before the court that she had converted for the sake of marrying an Iranian named Ferdoun Ashanian in 1999, but he left her a few months later. She has no knowledge of his current whereabouts.

The issue of non-Muslims converting to Islam, mostly for the sake of marriage, is a sensitive issue in Malaysia. If the marriage does not work, parents born of different faiths have gone to court to determine the religion their children should follow.

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