SHAH ALAM — A Muslim-born Malaysian woman who was held at an Islamic rehabilitation center for six months because she tried to live as a Hindu after marrying man of that faith insisted on Friday she will never return to being a Muslim. The Islamic Religious Department in southern Malacca state detained Revathi Masoosai, an ethnic Indian, in January and sent her for religious counselling after officials discovered that she had married a Hindu. Ms Revathi, 29, was born to Indian Muslim parents who gave her a Muslim name. Her official identification documents state she is a Muslim. Malaysians who are born as Muslims are legally barred from changing religion. But she claims she was raised as a Hindu by her grandmother and changed her name in 2001. Three years later, Ms Revathi married Mr Suresh Veerappan according to Hindu rites and gave birth to a daughter in December 2005. But the marriage was not legally registered because under Malaysian law, Mr Suresh would have had to convert to Islam first. Ms Revathi was released from the rehabilitation centre on Thursday. A day later, she appeared in a High Court in an attempt to have her detention declared illegal. Ms Revathi, 29, claimed officials at the centre tried to make her pray as a Muslim and wear a head scarf. She refused to eat food which she feared contained beef. "They say it's a school, but it's actually a prison," she told reporters. Mr Tuah Atan, a lawyer representing the Islamic department, said Ms Revathi seemed to have become "so obsessed with love" after meeting her husband. But he said officials remain hopeful that she might still return to Islam. Islamic officials seized the couple's 18-month-old daughter in March and handed the child to Ms Revathi's Muslim mother. Ms Revathi said officials have ordered her to live with her mother and her baby for now and to continue undergoing counselling. Her case highlights an increasing number of conflicts affecting the religious rights of the ethnic Indian and Chinese minorities. Indians, who form about 8 per cent of Malaysia's 26 million people, are mostly Hindus while some are Christians, Muslims and Sikhs. Mr Lim Kit Siang, chairman of the opposition Democratic Action Party, said on Friday that Ms Revathi's case and other religious disputes could hurt Malaysia's image, saying they showed "a narrow and intolerant face of Islam which must be of increasing concern to progressive and moderate Muslims". — AP
Sunday, July 8, 2007
Religious Freedom in Malasyaia
Whilst not strictly racial discrimination, this article was sent to me by a friend in Singapore from the on-line newspaper todayonline. What i find really disturbing are the 're-education' camps and the obvious lack of religious freedoms. I know i am coming from a liberal western perspective but it strikes a chilling cord to someone who had family members flee from Stalin's horrors in the 50's and settle in a new country. Anyway, an enlightening article that shows how fragile inter-faith (which are often in asia divided upon ethnic lines) relations really are and how the majority in many countries use their numbers as a bludgeon against non-conformity.