Parents must consent on children’s religion

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — In a decision seen as a victory for ethnic and religious minorities in this Muslim-majority nation, a court ruled Jan. 29 that the religion of a minor could only be decided with consent from both parents.

The decision upholds a lower court ruling in favor of M. Indira Gandhi, a Malaysian mother who challenged the conversion of her three children by her Muslim-convert former husband in 2009, according to the Malay Mail.
The ruling leaves police with the responsibility to locate and return Gandhi’s youngest daughter, taken away by her ex-husband, Muhammad Riduan Abdullah, in 2009 when she was 11 months old, a source told Reuters. Riduan is believed to be in hiding.

The verdict is seen as a major victory for women under a government seen as moving toward widening sharia courts’ jurisdiction in some parts of the country. Until now, the unilateral conversion of minors by Muslim converts had left women with little recourse, as their complaints would be referred to a sharia religious court, where non-Muslims have no standing to make claims, according to Reuters.

Muslims make up about 60 percent of Malaysia’s 30 million population. Buddhists, Hindus and Christians account for a significant minority, with about 9.2 percent of the population practicing Christianity. (TAB)