Wednesday, May 30, 2007

No joy for Lina Joy: Federal court rules against her IC appeal

Despite all the hopeful comments from the NGOs and religious liberalists - from the very start - irregardless of what your interpretion of the Constitution is - you just knew that the civil court simply will not take it upon itself to pass judgement on the religious status of a born-Muslim Malay, thereby casting massive doubt on the authority and powers of the Syariah court.

Heck, they're gutless enough to even attempt to surrender the jurisdiction over non-Muslims to the Syariah court.

Secondly, Lina Joy's case is somewhat different from Subashini, Moorthy, Rayappan et al. Those were all cases of Islamic laws encroaching on the lives of non-Muslims... due to a religious conversion at some stage. The primary catalyst was not a person who was born a Muslim.

Lina Joy - on the other hand - was born a Muslim-Malay and was a practicing Muslim until the day she converted to Christianity. And that makes all the difference. With that, the religious liberalists and the Syariah court/religious fundamentalists swap roles as defenders and invaders. The morality of cases involving converts was clear cut, but the moral high ground in this Lina Joy case is a grey area to me. I am of 2 minds as to who occupies it at the moment.

Lastly... again, I find it disconcerting that there is yet another split decision by the civil court justices - ostensibly according to their religious affinity. Just like the dismissal of Subashini's appeal to the Court of Appeals, this dismissal judgement was carried by a 2 to 1 majority where the 2 Muslim justices disagreed with the sole non-Muslim justice (who predictably was the dissenting voice). Far from questioning the workings of such learned legal minds - the uncouth, recalcitrant layman in me can't shake the nagging feeling that perhaps they might have experienced some sensation of split loyalties... to god's law and to the man-made constitution.

If you ask me, there's no respite ahead for Malaysia's religious turmoil. The Federal court will need to decide on Subashini's appeal soon.

Federal Court Dismisses Lina Joy's Appeal To Drop Islam In IC

PUTRAJAYA, May 30 (Bernama) -- Azlina Jailani, the woman who converted to Christianity, today failed in her appeal to get the Federal Court to compel the National Registration Department (NRD) to drop the word "Islam" from her identity card.

In a 2-1 majority decision, the court ruled that Azlina, 42, who changed her name to Lina Joy, should obtain a Syariah Court order confirming her apostasy before the department could delete the word.

Chief Justice Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim said the NRD had the right to require Lina Joy to produce an order from the Syariah Court to confirm that she had renounced the Islamic religion if she wanted to delete the word "Islam" in her identity card.

Justice Ahmad Fairuz and Federal Court Judge Datuk Alauddin Mohd Sheriff rejected the appeal while the Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Datuk Richard Malanjum gave a dissenting judgment.

Lina had appealed to the Federal Court after the Court ot Appeal in a 2-1 majority decision on Sept 19, 2005, prevented her from deleting the word "Islam" from her identity card on the grounds that her renounciation of Islam had not been validated by the Syariah Court or any other lawful Islamic authorities.

She made the appeal to the Appeals Court after the High Court in April 2001 ruled that as a Muslim she could not renounce Islam and that the matter of renounciation must be decided by the Syariah Court.

Lina named the Federal Territory Islamic Affairs Council, the government of Malaysia and NRD director-general Datuk Wan Ibrahim Wan Ahmad as the respondents in her appeal.

On Feb 2, 1997, she applied to the NRD to change her name to Lina Joy on the grounds that she had converted to Christianity but it was rejected on Aug 11, 1997.

Her second application to the NRD to change her name in Nov 1999, however, was approved but the new identity card issued listed her as a Muslim.



Anonymous said...

The decision was made, rightly and/or wrongly is depending from which you are looking at.

Lina Joy can be more at peace with her husband (or will be husband), if she/they emulate the converted Christian Afghani man who migrated to Europe.

The Mushruminator said...

From a completely legal point of view, it could have gone either way but when you factor the precedent that's been set and the freedoms that have been lost (if they were ever there to begin with) with the judgment passed, it's a pity that the case was decided the way it was. What we're left with is a woman who's been denied her fundamental rights to freedom of religion and to family life because of a Constitution that's been amended and distorted by leaders seeking to pander to the majority.

Decision was stayed in the Subashini case so that the judgment in the Lina Joy appeal could be considered. Things aren't looking all that great.