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Thursday May 31, 2007

CJ: NRD’s requirement is reasonable


PUTRAJAYA: Chief Justice Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim has ruled that the National Registration Department had reasonably required Lina Joy to get a certificate of apostasy from the Syariah Court. 

This would allow the court to proceed to make a deletion (of the word ‘Islam’) from her identity card. 

The top judge also ruled that since the Syariah Court had the jurisdiction over cases involving conversion to Islam, it should, by implication, have the power to decide on apostasy matters.  

“I do not see any defect in the 1999 Federal Court judgement in the case of Soon Singh (which decided on the same grounds and which led to the provision for Muslims to state their religion in their identity card). 

“To say that she is not under the jurisdiction of the Syariah Court – because she no longer professes Islam – is not appropriate,” said Ahmad Fairuz in his 41-page judgment. 

He added that the way one leaves a religion is set by the religion itself. 

“No one is stopping her from marrying. She is merely required to fulfil certain obligations, for the Islamic authorities to confirm her apostasy, before she embraces Christianity. 

“In other words, one cannot embrace or leave a religion according to one’s whims and fancies.”  

He said a mere statutory declaration that one has renounced Islam is not sufficient to remove the word “Islam” from a Muslim person’s identity card. 

“This is because apostasy is an issue dealing with Islamic laws. 

“Therefore, the NRD has adopted the policy that requires verification by the religious authorities or the Syariah Court before the department can delete the word. 

“Therefore, I agree with the Court of Appeal’s majority judgment that the NRD’s policy is completely reasonable,” said Ahmad Fairuz.  

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