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Thursday May 31, 2007

Mixed reaction to court decision


KUALA LUMPUR: Some Muslim groups welcomed the Lina Joy verdict saying that justice has been served, while non-Muslims groups expressed their disappointment saying it contradicted a person’s constitutional right to the freedom of religion. 

Applauding the decision, the Muslim Organisations in Defence of Islam (Pembela) believed it came as a relief for the majority of the Muslims and non-Muslims alike. 

“The decision should not be perceived as a victory for Muslims and a loss for non-Muslims in Malaysia.  

“Instead it should be seen as a rejection of segments to radically revamp the current formula built on mutual understanding and social realities of the Malaysian society,” Abim president Yusri Mohamad said on behalf of Pembela in a statement. 

Meeting the press: Yusri talking to reporters outside the courthouse in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. He believes the decision comes as a relief for most Malaysians.
Pembela is a loose coalition of Malaysian Muslim NGOs concerned with various issues relating to the position of Islam in the country. 

Dr Chandra Muzaffar, International Movement for a Just World president, called for reforms of the Syariah laws.  

“The Quran does not prohibit a person from or punish a person for leaving the religion. The crux of the problems is the unwillingness of the Syariah Courts to entertain applications of the Lina Joy type. 

“We need to come up with a more progressive approach from the Syariah Courts. It needs a totally different mindset on the way we look at and understand Islam,” he said. 

However, CFM Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) chairman Bishop Paul Tan Chee Ing said it had now become more pressing for the Government and lawmakers to revisit the relevant legislation and to reinstate the jurisdiction of the Civil Courts so that equal protection of the rights to choose and express one’s religion is accorded to all Malaysians as enshrined by Article 11.  

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