Why? Muslims in Malaysia are subject to sharia law. None of those secular shenanigans apply. It is an instructive case for Western countries pondering or already embarking down the slippery slope of granting legal legitimacy to sharia rulings within their borders: Are constitutional liberties really preserved when an “alternative” system does not guarantee freedom of conscience and other freedoms unequivocally?
The question is valid even when sharia is not as officially compulsory as it is in Malaysia: Social and familial pressures are just as likely to make the idea of the “choice” of systems a farce and work against the people most in need of the legal protections of the non-sharia system.
“Clause doesn’t cover Muslims,” from The Star, February 24:
FREEDOM of religion as stated in Article 11 (1) of the Federal Constitution does not cover Muslims who wish to convert at any time.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said Muslims who wish to renounce the religion would need to obtain an order or declaration from the Syariah Court, which has the jurisdiction under state Enactments of Islam.
The case Lina Joy vs Federal Territory Religious Department would be the guide for anyone intending to renounce Islam, he said.
In other words: No.
“The judgment in the case states clearly that a Muslim cannot renounce the religion as he wishes. If such freedom is given to Muslims, this will affect the status of Islam as the official religion, as stated in the Federal Constitution,” he said.
Replying to Zulkifli Noordin (PKR — Kulim Bandar Baru), he said Phrase 4 of Article 11 prohibited non-Muslims from spreading other religions to Muslims.
At the moment, Nazri said there are 10 states in Malaysia that limit the spread of other religions to Muslims with state laws.
The states are Terengganu, Kelantan, Selangor, Perak, Malacca, Kedah, Pahang, Negri Sembilan, Johor and Perlis.
Nazri said a Muslim can only renounce the religion once the Syariah Court gives the order whereby the National Registration Department would delete the word “Islam” from the identity card once relevant documents are shown.
He also said that the government has no intention to amend Article 11 (1) after the Federal Court decided on the Lina Joy case.