Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sarawak won't adopt anti-apostasy law (The Sun Daily, 13/11/2011)

An interesting development in Sarawak on freedom of religion...

My personal belief is that every person should be free to choose their own religion or even chose not to have a religion or even whether to belief in God or not. This freedom also should include the freedom to change religions. Religion is a matter between a person and God - and the State (or government) should definitely not impose any laws that criminalize certain aspects of one's own religion.

Religious community have the right to advice and/or counsel - but that is the limit of it. State or governments certainly have no business in insisting one remains in this or that religion, or even try to control the practice of religion in a country. State should not be in the business of appointing this or that person to be priests, pastors or imam, and certainly should also not be involved in determining the content of religious sermons and talks.

State however would have a right to laws to ensure that practices of any one religion would not directly annoy or disrespect the believes of peoples of other faiths. In Malaysia, there is this respect - and when an Indian goes to a Muslim stall, the proprietor draws the attention of the customer when a meat is beef. Likewise, non-Muslims will not serve pork at open houses, and list goes on and on. But some times, there are some in our community that forget this and do things knowing that it will cause hurt to other religious communities. We have seen the dragging and stepping on cow's head...when we all know that the cow is sacred to the Hindu...But really, those who do behave disrespectfully of others' belief is in the minority - normally driven by some political motive or evil. 

There are some bad laws in Malaysia, which goes against this spirit of community and respect in Malaysia. I would not deal with them now ...maybe later.

Sarawak won't adopt anti-apostasy law

KUCHING (Nov 13, 2011): The state government does not intend to adopt anti-apostasy law because Sarawak practises religious freedom where each and every individual can choose the religion of his or her choice.

However, Assistant Minister of Islamic Affairs Datuk Daud Abdul Rahman said, this does not mean that the State Islamic Department was encouraging all those who had converted to Islam to leave the religion.

“We do not encourage converts to leave the religion neither do we have an iron grip on them. We can only advice them,” said Daud yesterday, reiterating that the state upholds the rights of individuals where religion is concerned.

Daud was commenting on a recent statement by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom that it was up to the individual states to propose an anti-apostasy law.

Speaking to reporters after attending a graduation and award presentation ceremony at Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) Matang, Daud said Muslims in the state are not the majority and it would create bad feelings among the non-Muslims if the Anti-Apostasy Act was to be implemented.

Daud said the state, unlike West Malaysia, looks at religion from a different point of view and if converts really want to leave the religion after being advised against it, there is nothing much that the State Religious Department can do.

“However, we have set up a committee called ‘Akidah Committee’ headed by the State Mufti to help the new converts and to counsel them on religious matters,” he said.

Daud explained that a convert who wanted to leave the religion would normally inform the State Religious Department about it and he (the convert) would be given counselling sessions by officers from the department for up to a year before he (the convert) makes a final decision.

The Assistant Minister said that he had personally received requests from several individuals regarding the matter, and his solution was always to let the individuals decide what was best for them.

Most converts, he said, converted to Islam for the sake of marrying a Muslim man or woman and they had almost zero knowledge about Islam.

“Even their Muslim partner may have very little knowledge of Islam and they tend to lead a non-Islamic way of life after conversion, leading them to think that there is no difference if they go back to their old beliefs.

“Another problem is that those who want to leave the religion have to deal with the National Registration Department in deleting the ‘bin’ or ‘binti’ from their name as displayed in the identification card,” he said. - The Sun Daily, 13/11/2011, Sarawak won't adopt anti-apostasy law
See also earlier posts:-  When are Pakatan Rakyat governed States going to amend Control and Restriction of the Propagation of non-Islamic Religious Enactment?  - it is these laws that prohibit persons other than Muslims from using words like Allah, ... a position contrary to the position of even PAS in the Pakatan Rakyat.

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