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Malaysia: Right to convert challenged
28 April 2016
The National Registration Department (NRD) has challenged the decision of the High Court of Sarawak to allow Rooney Rebit to officially change his religion to Christian on his identity card.
Rebit was born into a Christian family but converted to Islam by his parents when he was 8. He later converted back to Christianity as an adult.
There is a high chance that the decision of the High Court will be reversed, disallowing Muslim converts to officially change their religion. A constitutional rights lawyer commented, "Judges are abdicating their role to protect the freedom of religion in the constitution. Every religious rights case gets overturned in the highest courts (of Malaysia)."
- That the High Court's decision will be upheld, and the constitutional right to freedom of religion will be defended
- For the Church in Sarawak, where the majority population are Christians, to become more aware of the challenges facing Muslim background believers
- For discernment as Sarawakians elect a new state government on 7 May.
Right to convert defended
31 March 2016
A Malaysian court has upheld the rights of a Christian, Rooney Rebit, to convert from Islam.
Rooney (41) was born into a Christian family in 1975 but his parents converted to Islam when he was eight years old. In 1999 he embraced Christianity and was baptised. However, his identity card continued to state his religion as Islam.
The judgment establishes a precedent in a country where religious conversions, particularly from Islam to Christianity, have been steeped in controversy. The verdict reaffirms the supremacy of the Federal Constitution, which under Article 11 defends every Malaysian citizen's right to freedom of religion.
- For continuing strength and courage for Rooney
- That this decision will be upheld; the Islamic religious department may appeal against it
- That this case will compel other converts to fight for the same rights.
More News from Malaysia:
- Media attention builds over Pastor's mysterious abduction, two months on
- Kidnapped pastor still missing after one month
- Use of 'Allah' still unresolved for Malaysia's Christians
- Malaysia's 'Allah' ruling widely criticised
Find out more about persecution in Malaysia.