Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Concerned Reaction to Lina Joy Decision

The following is a Malaysiakini report:
‘Denying all her rights’
Ooi Kelly
May 30, 07 7:13pm

Below are some immediate comments from various concerned groups over the Federal Court’s decision to dismiss an appeal by Lina Joy today.

Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) president Meera Samanther said that the court’s decision “denied Lina Joy of her right to choose her religion, her right to choose her partner and her reproductive rights (in terms of bearing a legitimate child)”.

Meera also felt that the decision also denied Lina’s right of living in this country as Lina’s only option now in pursuing her rights to profess the religion of her choice was to leave the country.

“Malaysia is not honouring the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women treaty which was ratified in 5th July 1995,” she said.

Although disappointed with the court’s rule, WAO Executive director Ivy Josiah said that she was nevertheless encouraged by the dissenting judgement and hoped to educate the public further with it.

This what the rest had to say:

Zainah Anwar, Sisters In Islam executive director

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For us, the dissenting judgement was significant. The Federal Court, the apex court of the country, is divided over this issue, as the country is divided on this issue.

Malik Imtiaz Sawar, Malaysian Bar Council
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The fact that there was a minority judgement, a strong dissenting judgement, only indicated the need to re-address the issue.

I think that it’s sad to note at this junction, looking at the minority and majority judgement of this court and I say this in respective of the majority view, there is no clear answer in what she’s suppose to do.

Leonard Teoh, Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism

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People like Lina Joy should not be trapped in a legal cage, not being able to come out to practise their true conscience and religion.

Teresa Kok, DAP member of Parliament

The verdict is a setback against religious freedom in Malaysia.

Paul Tan Chee Ing, Christian Federation of Malaysia

We note with much concern that this decision reflects a growing trend of decisions in the courts where civil courts are abdicating their responsibility of providing legal redress to individuals who only seek to profess and live their religion according to their conscience.

As a result of this decision, it is now more pressing for the government and lawmakers to revisit the relevant legislation and to reinstate the jurisdiction of the Civil Courts so that equal protection of the right to choose and express one's religion is accorded to all Malaysians, as
enshrined in Article 11.

Rights movement Aliran

This decision, looked at from another point of view, undermines the judiciary itself. The judiciary cannot be technical in delivering its verdict. Fairness and justice should be part of any judgment and should not be sacrificed on technical grounds. Where is the compassion for someone who has turned to the judiciary for a solution to free her from her predicament? Can justice redeem itself? Is there hope for the ordinary person in our judiciary?

It is really troubling when an issue such as this is politicised and blown out of all proportion and pressure is mounted to deny justice.

6 comments:

Cheeweng said...

Lina Joy's unhappiness and her statement that "the Federal Court is not able to vindicate a simple but important fundamental right that exists in all persons; namely, the right to believe in the religion of one's choice and equally important, the right to marry a person of one's choice and to raise a family in the Malaysia context" (The Star, May 31, 2007) is sadly felt by all right-thinking Malaysians who value real freedom.

And to Abim President, Yusri Mohamad, please confine your sentiments that the verdict “...should be seen as a rejection of segments to radically revamp the current formula built on mutual understanding and social realities of the Malaysian society,” to those who think like you do. How do you know what the non-Muslims are feeling?

The right to freedom of religion is guaranteed in Article 11(1) of the Federal Constitution of Malaysiais and is one of the fundamental rights guaranteed in Islam. This is emphasised in verse 256 of Sura al-Baqara: "Let there be no compulsion in religion".

Real freedom is not just enshrined in a constitution nor a holy book but it has to be seen to be practised without being intimidated by submission to a religious court whose jurisprudence is no longer believed by a respondent.

Let me quote from the abstract of the "Law of Apostasy and Freedom of Religion in Malaysia by Mohamed Azam Mohamed Adil, MARA University of Technology (Asian Journal of Comparative Law; http://www.bepress.com/asjcl/vol2/iss1/art6/)

"However, the majority of classical Muslim jurists opine that the right to freedom of religion is not applicable to Muslims, that Muslims who intend to leave the Islamic faith or who have apostatised should be condemned to the death penalty. In reality, punishment for apostasy is not prescribed in the Qur'an and had not been practised by the Prophet (S.A.W.). Instead, the Prophet (S.A.W.) had imposed the death penalty upon apostates because their acts were contemptuous of, and hostile towards, Islam. Muslims who merely renounced the Islamic religion were only required to undergo a process of repentance (tawba)....Apostates are subject to punishments such as fine, imprisonment and whipping."

Even Dr Chandra Muzaffar,the International Movement for a Just World president, has called for reforms of the Syariah laws. “The Quran does not prohibit a person from or punish a person for leaving the religion. The crux of the problems is the unwillingness of the Syariah Courts to entertain applications of the Lina Joy type." (The Star, May 31, 2007)

It seems to an objective observer that the law on apostasy is open to interpretation. So whose interpretation is right? Islam seems to be the only religion where apostasy is such a serious issue.

May Lina Joy have the courage to seek her freedom of worship should she decide there is no further recourse than the Syariah Court.

Anonymous said...

What has happened to this country.We talked so much about religious freedom and tolerance!Cant our leaders do something to ensure that Malaysia is a better place to live in!

Anonymous said...

Nasihat saya kepada Yusri Mohamad, President ABIM: Tak payah engkau act sebagai hero!Malaysia tidak memerlukan hero.Apa yang kita perlukan ialah orang yang intelek,bijak serta hati yang terbuka.Kita memerlukan orang berakal yg tidak membuat kenyataan secara melulu!

Anonymous said...

I see not only religious freedom being denied in this country, but also see some "religious" men in this country try to play God. Why should they worry men turn from one religion to another, even God himself gives men the freedom to believe Him.

Horny Toad said...

There are a lot of gods in Malaysia: Find them in Jais & the Syariah Courts. They know you will go to hell if you leave Islam and not follow their laws. Even when one dies, they want one's corpse in the correct grave so it will go to paradise where all those many virgins whom their earthly hero, Osama says are lustily awaiting, undoubtedly, most impatiently.

Anonymous said...

Westerners have to fear, that Malaysia will end up like Pakistan one day.
Travel to Malaysia should be discouraged.