Islamic tolerance alert from Malaysia. Remember: the traditional penalty for someone who leaves Islam is death, so in a certain sense Kamariah Ali, a member of the late lamented Giant Teapot sect, is getting off easy. “ASIAN LIVES: Malaysian woman’s lonely campaign for religious freedom,” from AFP, with thanks to Hutchrun:
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 28 (AFP) – No one will give Kamariah Ali a job, relatives and one-time friends shun her, and much of her time is spent in the law courts — all because she no longer wants to be a Muslim.
“People look down on me because I renounced Islam. But people don’t understand. Actually, religion belongs to God and you can access God in any way, not necessarily through Islam,” says the soft-spoken 54-year-old.
Seven years ago, Kamariah publicly renounced Islam after being continually prosecuted and jailed by religious authorities in Malaysia’s northern Kelantan state who accused her of deviating from the faith. She had become a member of a religious sect famous for quirky structures on its compound, including a giant teapot. Its leader, Ayah Pin, caused shockwaves by proclaiming that he was God and that his followers were free to practise whatever religion they pleased….
Kamariah’s life has now shrunk to the confines of a compound which houses remaining sect members in northeastern Terengganu state, where she spends her days helping one of her children, who is a seamstress.
She rarely ventures out into the wider community, and state police and religious authorities have restricted the numbers of people who can see her.
But there’s hardly a whiff of despair, or any sense that Kamariah considers herself a victim.
“I dont feel anything,” she says of how she has been treated by the local community. “I dont feel sad, I feel pity for them because they dont understand.”
Kamariah’s renunciation was a rare challenge on an issue which remains completely taboo in Malaysia, where the constitution dictates that the ethnic Malays who dominate the multi-ethnic population are Muslim by definition.
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