“A Show of Bad Faith”

In Islam, you can’t rise above your raising. If you’re born into a Muslim family, then Muslim you are, despite any experience you may have that runs contrary to this edict.

The latest ludicrous display of the Muslim Medievalists took place in Malaysia, when an ethnic Malay woman presented her baptismal certificate, proof of her years of study of Catholic theology, and a request to have “Muslim” expunged from her national identification card so she could marry her fiancé, who is a Roman Catholic – as she presumed she was until the court decided otherwise.

The Wall Street Journal calls it a “Show of Bad Faith“ on the part of the Malaysian Federal Court, which handed down its decision this past Wednesday:

As Islamist protestors’ shouts of “Allah-o-Akbar” echoed through Putrajaya’s Palace of Justice, the Malaysian Federal Court Wednesday reaffirmed that religion is determined by court orders and not personal conscience. The two-to-one landmark decision by the country’s highest court marks a monumental setback to religious freedom and human rights in Malaysia, a secular country increasingly influenced by Islamism.

Lina Joy Lina Joy… is an ethnic Malay born into an Islamic family who converted to Christianity in 1998 at the age of 36. Desiring to live as a Christian, she sought to have “Islam” removed from her national identification card so that she could marry her Roman Catholic fiancé. However, the National Registration Department refused her request without an official order from the Islamic Sharia court declaring her an apostate. Because Ms. Joy was not a Muslim, she argued that the Sharia court — which constitutionally has jurisdiction only in limited, enumerated matters relating to family law “over persons professing the religion of Islam” — had no jurisdiction over her decision.

On principle, Ms. Joy never applied to the Sharia court because she rightly reasoned that the state could not tell her what she believes in her heart. Further, no Sharia court has ever recognized an application for apostasy made by an ethnic Malay. Instead, a common judgment has been years-long sentences to religious “rehabilitation” camps for re-education in Islam.

Ms. Joy courageously filed suit in civil court, optimistic that the federal Constitution’s provisions for equal protection and freedom of religion for all Malaysians would strengthen her case. The trial court dismissed her application, arguing that ethnic Malays are constitutionally defined as Muslim, thereby making conversion from Islam illegal. The judge also reasoned that allowing this exemption would encourage future converts. The Court of Appeals subsequently wrote that allowing Ms. Joy’s conversion would “consequently be inviting the censure of the Muslim community.”

Any hope that Ms. Joy might find protection from the federal Constitution was crushed by the Supreme Court’s reaffirmation of the doctrine that if you are born a Muslim, you will stay a Muslim until the community decides otherwise. Ignoring Lina Joy’s years of Catholic study, church attendance, and the baptism certificate she presented as proof of her sincerity, Chief Justice Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim said in his decision, “You can’t at whim and fancy convert from one religion to another.”

That’s an interesting slant on four years of study: her religious faith is a “whim.” If anything ever operated on the whim theory, it is Sharia Courts. What a farce.

If it’s any comfort to Ms. Joy, she was rejected on the feast day of Joan of Arc; she’s in good company. Perhaps there is some comfort she’s not going to be burned at the stake…I hope.

WSJ author, Angela C. Wu, (now there’s a multi-cultural name for you), observed:
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Judge Richard Malanjum, the only non-Muslim among the three judges, dissented, arguing that because the National Registration Department had required a special approval only for Muslims, it violated the equal treatment provision in Article Eight of the federal Constitution. In its perverse way, Wednesday’s ruling was discriminatory only against those born into Islam.


Malaysia’s religious and ethnic diversity, growing economy, and regional leadership make these rulings all the more troubling. Indicators such as Ms. Joy’s case, in which judges unabashedly set aside constitutional protections in favor of the sensibilities of Muslim believers, suggest that there is growing support for Islamization.

Just as Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Buddhists mingle in Kuala Lumpur’s Central Market, so too have Sharia and civil law existed side by side since Malaysia’s Constitution came into force in 1957. Now, the prospects of Sharia and civil law peacefully coexisting have grown dim. Malaysia’s ability to protect fundamental human rights while navigating its parallel legal system among rising religious and ethnic tensions is an indication of whether it’s possible anywhere.

In Malaysia, where Islam as the state religion was historically merely a symbolic statement, and where the Constitution reflects religious freedom for people of all faiths, the issue is not whether Sharia can accommodate human rights. It’s whether human rights can accommodate Sharia.

Ms. Joy remains in hiding, trapped in a legal quagmire designed by a state judging her religion according to her ethnicity and not what she professes. Meanwhile her country — whose motto is “Unity is Strength” — is at a cultural and legal crossroads. Wednesday’s ruling is a step toward an Islamic state in which group religious sentiment trumps the most fundamental human right, the right without which other rights are meaningless — the right to follow one’s conscience. Let us hope Malaysia can turn back in time.

Somehow, I don’t think it will.

So…logically, if ethnicity equals religious faith, then all of you with Irish or Italian or Spanish ancestry had better get ready for confession and begin learning to sing “Ave Maria.” The Pope is coming to getcha – and it won’t be pretty.

Hat tip: Annlee

5 thoughts on ““A Show of Bad Faith”

  1. She’s a brave woman. I wish her well.

    She appparently had faith in the secular judicial system in her country. Big mistake on her part.

    This goes to show what can happen with an activist judiciary that has an expansive idea of its own authority.

  2. Sad story. Hopefully this will get wide dissemination in the West, so people can see what we’re up against.

    Of course, in the US I know there have been instances of public schools teaching Islam, while banning anything relating to Christianity. So I think Rick’s onto something. Which we all knew anyway.

  3. “…a request to have “Muslim” expunged from her national identification card so she could marry her fiancé…”

    Missed something there. There is the implication that under Malay gov’t rules only same faith marraiges are allowed. If true then a case for human rights violations should be made to the UN and other NGO bodies like AI, right?

    Okay, waiting……

    [crickets chirping]

    Yup, just what I thought.

  4. Robohobo:
    You’re partly correct. Under Malaysian law anyone who wants to marry a Malay must first convert to Islam.

    A couple of updates that might be of interest:
    1) Lina Joy was abroad when she got word of the rejection of her appeal and she’s very seriously thinking of permanently leaving Malaysia. I wouldn’t be surprised if she eventually renounces her citizenship and the Western country that she’s currently visiting should waive the 2-5 year waiting period and give it hr on humanitarian grounds.
    2)The non-Moslem Malays are deeply, deeply consternated by the decision. To me, Malyasia won’t celebrate its 60th anniversary in its current form. Either non-Moslems get out of Dodge (and if I were an East Timorean politicians I’d be courting them to come) or they break up the country and create their own (Sabah is particulary far enough from Kuala Lampur)
    The Moslem Malays are crowing but it’s a phyrric victory and a sour one at that


  5. If Lina leaves and I can’t blame her then the battle is lost.

    She still has one more option and that is the Islamic court.

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