Muslim coalition to challenge Federal Court decision on unilateral conversion

M. Indira Gandhi (left) speaks to reporters during a press conference after the Federal Court annulled the unilateral conversion of her three children in Putrajaya January 29, 2018. — Picture by Zuraneeza Zulkifli
M. Indira Gandhi (left) speaks to reporters during a press conference after the Federal Court annulled the unilateral conversion of her three children in Putrajaya January 29, 2018. — Picture by Zuraneeza Zulkifli

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 7 — A Muslim coalition will file a judicial review in a bid to overturn a landmark Federal Court decision that outlawed the unilateral conversion of children recently.

The Malaysian Insight reported that Movement to Defend Ummah reached the decision after a roundtable discussion involving Malaysia Shariah Lawyers Association president Musa Awang, former chief justice Ahmad Fairuz, Ummah chairman Ismail Mina Ahmad and Pahang mufti Abd Rahman Osman in Kuala Lumpur today.

The movement’s chief secretariat Aminuddin Yahaya said the Federal Court’s decision to nullify the conversion of the three children was not in line with the Constitution that states Islam is the main religion of the country.

Last week, the Federal Court ruled that the unilateral conversion of M. Indira Gandhi’s three children to Islam by her ex-husband was null and void.

The couple’s two older children, aged 19 and 20, are with Indira, while their nine-year-old child is with Indira’s former husband, Muhammad Riduan Abdullah, whose whereabouts are currently unknown.

Muhammad Riduan fled with the child after a bitter custody battle nine years ago.

Aminuddin said the Federal Court’s decision had given the civil court the power to decide matters that are the purview of the Shariah court.

“It looks like the Shariah court in the long run will become subservient to the civil court,” he said following a closed-door meeting attended by around 200 people at the KL International Hotel.

The coalition is also seeking for the word “parent” to be more clearly defined as the Federal Court had ruled that the conversion of children must have the consent of both parents.

He said the judiciary’s decision appeared to be above the legislative and that the courts had the power to discourage amendments to the Constitution pertaining to Shariah.

“We want the Shariah court to be given more power,” he was quoted as saying by the news portal.

Aminuddin said he hoped that the Council of Rulers would issue a statement to ease the segregation of Islam as it is a matter of public interest.

He, however, said the coalition is against Muhammad Riduan’s action of fleeing with the couple’s youngest child as it was un-Islamic.

“The child is still with the father so the decision lies with the Shariah court now if she is Muslim or not. 

“But in this case, the civil court has already decided that Indira’s three children are not Muslim.

“Let the Islamic council decide if they are Muslim or non-Muslim.”

Inspector-General of Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun has advised the public to avoid speculation and conjecture as police continue to look for the missing father and child.

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