Saturday, June 16, 2007

Food for thought- Freedom of religion..

Revathi, an ethnic Indian woman, has been held in a rehabilitation center run by Islamic authorities since January 2007 because she wants the State to acknowledge she is a Hindu and not a Muslim.
Revathi was born to Indian parents who had converted to Islam before her birth. She claims she was raised by her grandmother as a Hindu. She and Suresh were married according to Hindu rites in March 2004. Revathi was advised by the Malacca Islamic Religious Department to make an application at the Malacca Syariah High Court to confirm her status as a Hindu. She did as she was told.
However, the Syariah Court ordered her detained in a rehabilitation centre in Ulu Yam, Selangor under Melaka's Syariah criminal laws for 100 days. This detention was extended in Revathi's absence for a further 80 days supposedly because she had not "repented". In the meanwhile, Revathi's Muslim mother obtained a Syariah Court order granting her custody of Revathi and Suresh's 15 month old baby. That order was enforced on Suresh's Hindu family with the assistance of the police.
The family is now torn apart - with the mother in detention, the child with the grandparents and the father in limbo without his family.

There will be a peaceful candlelight vigil in support of Revathi and many others like her, who are unable to fully exercise their Constitutionally- guaranteed freedom of faith.The vigil is an initiative of civil society organisations including MCCBCHST (the Malaysian Consultative Council on Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism) and various women's rights groups (All Women's Action Society (AWAM), Sisters in Islam (SIS), Women's Aid Organisation (WAO), Women's Centre for Change, Penang (WCC) and Women's Development Collective (WDC)).

Date: Tuesday, 19 June 2007
Time: 8 p.m.
Venue: Dataran Merdeka (at the flagpole)


Now, this really got me thinking a little about our precious little country, Malaysia. In article 11 of the constitution, it states that 'every person has the right to profess and practice his religion'. I think its a little hard to see where this fits into Revathi's case, in fact, it might not fit at all. All I can say is that I'm a little suprised that the people who should in fact, be making a big deal about this are keeping quiet.

I say this with all the due respect to my muslim friends and acquaintances. But shouldn't the muslims be worrying that their rights are being blatantly trampled upon? Its their freedom that's being restricted, and the non-muslims to a certain extent as well. From what I can see, there is no freedom in their choice of religion irrespective of what convictions they have. I would think that one should be given the liberty to make a choice, even if the choice is to remain as status quo.

I think I'd enjoy a walk in Dataran Merdeka this Tuesday night. Maybe I'll bring along some candles as well. After all, its a great opportunity to hear a little more in detail about Revathi's scenario and possibly to get some good pictures as well.


FaJiL said...

wahh if it isnt the ever controversial topic for us malaysians =p

well with what you said, shouldnt muslims be afraid of our rights being blatantly trampled upon? well my take on the matter is this, as far as we would really want to uphold the constitution by promoting religious freedom, i guess its just too sensitive when it comes to apostasy of muslims.

Well you see, its not in the constitution and governed by the constitution itself that muslims cannot apostate, therein lies the problem. coz if it were just that, there would be no problem, as that would mean the solution is amending the constitution.

SO its about religion, and only religion. its clearly written in Islamic laws that muslims cannot convert, for whatever reasons at all.

Therefore i guess there is divided thinking even among us muslims in malaysia. I for one hopes that religion does not influence the governing of the country, but i guess there are borderlines, that, sadly I must admit.

And I acknowledge that there is a general feeling of creeping islamicisation of Malaysia. But I would think that this is not the case, cases like lina joy would’ve had the same verdict years ago, the only difference now being the media coverage.

And im sure we see things differently, as I admit my views are biased upon on my religion, but that’s the point isn’t it? =) good ol’ discussion never brought harm

p/s enjoy the walk in dataran merdeka yeahh!

Spilinmy said...

ah.. Indeed, discussions never brought harm =D. Nevertheless, I would sitll think that the islamization of Malaysia is not a myth, but reality.
About Lina Joy and her verdict, it might've been a tad different had it happened a few decades ago. The case of Hilmy Noor would be an example.
However, I can see that you have adequately adressed the problem; which by discussing, would have a whole different line of reasoning altogether.

FaJiL said...

haha yeaa i guess i've addressed it, but i'm sorry i didnt offer any practical solutions. Fact is, i don't know of one =(

But actually yeah u might be true on the islamization.. Well a good example someone gave to me was just to take a look at P Ramlee movies and any movie from that era, and compare it to the lifestyle of muslim nowadays.. the difference is startling =S