Sunday, August 13, 2006

Malaysia braces for ruling on Islam conversion

Malaysia braces for ruling on Islam conversion

By Jalil Hamid and Liau Y-Sing

(Reuters) - Malaysia is expecting a court ruling any day now that could shake society to its foundations: does a Muslim have the right to convert to another faith?

A Muslim by birth, Lina Joy decided to become a Christian, marry and raise a family. But in Malaysia, where Islam is the official religion, this is an affair of state, not conscience.

The 42-year-old has asked the Federal Court, the country's highest civil judicial authority, to acknowledge her decision to convert to Christianity and is now awaiting a verdict.

Whatever the outcome, the decision could pose a headache for a government that is trying to meet the demands of the majority Muslim population and the sizeable minority of non-Muslims.

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