Friday, June 01, 2007

Hindu woman wants Islam status removed

Hindu woman wants Islam status removed
Soon Li Tsin

Born into Islam out of family circumstances 25 years ago, a practising Hindu now wants to change her religion so she could marry a Hindu man.

Jamaliah was soft-spoken and related her harrowing story at a press conference held at the Selangor DAP office today with her lawyer Lim Lip Eng (right) present.

Expressing that she dislikes the name ‘Jamaliah’, she calls herself Priya and did not wish to be photographed.

“For all my life I have been a practising Hindu and I only want to marry a Hindu man. If possible, I want to change my religion to Hindu but the Lina Joy decision has destroyed all my hopes for the future,” she said.

Currently a clerk, Priya was told by her previous employer, a lawyer, to wait for Lina Joy’s Federal Court decision before deciding what to do.

On Wednesday, the apex court with a 2-1 majority said that word 'Islam' cannot be removed from Lina’s IC and that she can only apostatise through the Syariah Court.

Father took second wife

Relating to reporters on her family background, Priya said her father had converted from Hindu to Islam after taking on a second wife who is an Indian-Muslim.

Her birth certificate and IC both states that she is Islam.

“My mother who was the first wife remained a Hindu but she left the family later after falling out with my father,” she said.

Priya (right) said her stepmother had supported her in being a Hindu and had never compelled Priya to practise any Muslim rites such as fasting or praying after her father died when Priya was seven years old.

She has five elder siblings, one brother and four sisters who are all practicing Hindus.

The Perak native said she has never faced any problems concerning her Muslim status during her school days as she was not compelled to attend Islamic studies.

The cruncher only came when her Hindu boyfriend of six years recently left her and said he cannot accept her Islam status and was not willing to convert to marry her.

“He cannot accept my status and won’t marry me. He now says he wants to find another Indian girl to marry,” she said.

Last week she attempted suicide by drinking poison and was warded in Sungai Buloh Hospital for three days before deciding to take this matter to Lim.

Legal options

Lim then brought the matter to DAP who are now highlighting that conversion cases are not uncommon.

“I don’t think she is the only one. There are many affected by the Lina Joy judgment and I hope with more case highlighted we can find means of helping them,” he said.

Meanwhile, he added that Priya would consider all legal options available including seeking redress in the Syariah Court.

“The process to leave the religion through the Syariah Court are obstructive. We have heard that duress and pressure are applied on the applicant.

“It is also a very long process and there’s no guarantee that the Syariah authorities would approve the apostasy,” Lim stressed.

He said Priya now runs the risk of being detained and sent to a rehabilitation camp for declaring that she wants to leave Islam.

Asked what her hope is, Priya said: “I want to leave a religion that I never practiced. I will go to the Syariah Court but I am afraid of what will happen.

“I just want to be recognised as a Hindu and marry a Hindu man,” she added.

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