Friday, July 5, 2013

Open secret that Rulers objected to cabinet's decision on conversion | theSundaily

Open secret that Rulers objected to cabinet's decision on conversion

KUALA LUMPUR (July 4, 2013): Senior Umno leader Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said today that "it was an open secret" that the Conference of Rulers objected to the implementation of the cabinet's 2009 decision against the unilateral conversion of minors to Islam.

He said the conference was the only institution in the country that could object in the matter which ultimately led to a suspension of the decision that both parents should agree to the changing of a child's faith.

The tourism minister said a bill is tabled in Parliament only when the cabinet has decided and approved it.

"Once Parliament approves it, it will become law. But in Malaysia, the only institution that can, in a way, stop this process will be the Conference of Rulers.

"It is an open secret and obvious for any right-thinking Malaysian to come to this conclusion or deduction that this could be the only reason why such a powerful cabinet decision cannot be implemented."

Nazri, who is also Padang Rengas MP, qualified himself by adding that he was not explicitly saying that the Conference of Rulers objected to the cabinet's 2009 decision.

"But I think Malaysians can make their own deduction on why it has not become a law... who else can stop the cabinet's decision," Nazri told theSun today.

He said this in reference to theSun's front page report yesterday that despite mounting objections to unilateral conversion of minors to Islam, reservations from the Malay rulers put paid to the 2009 cabinet's stand against unilateral conversion.

Nazri, who was the de facto law minister then, added that the proposed amendment to Clause 107 of the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013, which is being objected by various groups, should not be tabled for its second reading or debated.

He explained that from a Muslim's point of view, there should be no coercion in religion.

Nazri said every child that is born already has a religion and is inculcated with religious values by the parents.

"When one of the parents convert to Islam and also convert the children who already has a religion, then it is actually coercion. No Muslim will agree to this because Islam must be embraced and 'embrace' here is a connotation of free will.

"As a Muslim, I am very upset that Islam is being used as a tool of convenience by parties at fault in the marriage, to dissolve the marriage and run away from responsibilities.

"This is how I see in this issue ... a husband (or wife) trying to use Islam to run away from their responsibilities and punish their spouse," he added.

Nazri said the bill is merely postponing a bigger issue which will occur when the child attains the age of 18, when he or she decides what religion to embrace.

"If the child decides to embrace his or her original religion, then it is considered as apostasy and it is an offence in Islam.

"It will create more issues in the future, which will give Islam a very bad name," he said.
Meanwhile, former Perlis mufti Mohd Asri Zainal Abidin said the mother or father who has embraced Islam is not supposed to make their young children follow suit.

He said what should be done is that the children should undergo Islamic education until they are mature enough to decide on the religion of their choice.

He said a Muslim father can teach their children about Islam even if they are under the care of their non-Muslim spouse.

"It is alright if the custody of the children is given to the mother, as Islam is the official religion in the country and the religion of the federation, and what is needed is for the father to teach Islam to the children," he said.

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