Sunday, January 17, 2016

Marchers support Indira, want unilateral conversions stopped

malaysiakini

Zikri Kamarulzaman







As cabinet continues to work out a way to deal with child conversion issue, about 200 people today marched in solidarity with Indira Gandhi, whose three children were unilaterally converted to Islam by her ex-husband.

Indira's lawyer M Kulasegaran told Malaysiakini the march in Ipoh lasted about one and a half hours and was peaceful throughout.

"People of all races attended to show their support for Indira," he said after attending the rally at Polo Ground field, which featured Indira herself.

He added another march is planned for tomorrow in Seremban.

Last month, the Court of Appeal overturned an Ipoh High Court ruling that the conversion of Indira's three children by her ex-husband K Pathmanathan@Muhammad Riduan Abdullah was unlawful.

In a majority decision, it ruled that the civil courts did not have jurisdiction to hear matters of conversion, and that the validity of conversion certificates is the exclusive purview of syariah courts.

‘We feel your pain’

The marchers were photographed carrying various placards, including 'Do not separate mother and child', 'Indira we feel your pain' and 'Children need a mother's love and touch'.

Association of Women Lawyers president Meera Samanther said marchers also carried little flags with wishes written on them, which were then planted on the field.

Among the wishes was a call for an end to unilateral conversion.

"There are a lot of concerns that any one of us is vulnerable; conversion can take place and affect any parent, although predominantly the victims are women," Meera said when contacted.

Earlier in her speech at the rally, Meera expressed concern at how effective the cabinet committee dealing with unilateral conversion will be.

"We fear that it would be to no avail. It is obvious that the government lacks the political will and courage to right a wrong and to set policies and laws that are equitable," she had said.

MIC president S Subramaniam, who heads the committee, last night said that cabinet stands by its view that that an interfaith custodial dispute should be referred to the civil court if the couple married under civil law.

This stand was first made in 2009, after news of Indira's case was first reported.

However, former de facto law minister Nazri Abdul Aziz revealed in 2013 that the Conference of Rulers objected to the implementation of the 2009 decision.



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