Sisters in Islam questions why no public discussion over proposed unilateral conversion Bill

The silhouette of a man as he reads the Quran during the holy month of Ramadan at the Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Mosque in Shah Alam, May 18, 2019. — Yusof Mat Isa
The silhouette of a man as he reads the Quran during the holy month of Ramadan at the Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Mosque in Shah Alam, May 18, 2019. — Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 8 — Muslim women’s rights group Sisters in Islam today said it is disappointed that public engagements were not held by the Selangor over the proposed Bill in the state that would pave the way for unilateral conversion of minors.

In a statement today, the group had called for all parties to be transparent on the motives behind the discussions held on the proposed Bill.

“We demand to know who proposed this Bill as well as the reason behind it, given that a landmark ruling has already been made at the Federal Court in January last year.

“It is important that the intentions of the Bill are made clear to the public in order to prevent the manipulation of our country’s plural legal system and exploitation of Islam for political purposes,” the statement read.

The group also said a Malaysia that is keen to uphold democracy, transparency and integrity should not have secret meetings and closed-door discussions.

“We are concerned and disappointed that public engagements are not being held as this decision will not only have devastating effects on the family institution, but also negatively affect the lives of thousands of children in Selangor,” it said in the statement.

Tensions have built up within Selangor Pakatan Harapan as it was said there is a split among the ruling coalition’s state lawmakers over a proposed amendment which would allow the unilateral conversion of minors to Islam.

It is understood that the Selangor as Mentri Besar Amirudin Shari had planned to push through an amendment to a state enactment, which currently says that individuals below 18 must obtain the consent of both “mother and father” before converting to Islam.

The planned amendment will see a change of this wording to “mother or father”; meaning that one parent will get to decide on the conversion of a minor.

State leaders were scheduled to meet the Selangor mentri besar at his official residence today.

In January last year, the Federal Court delivered a landmark ruling overturning the unilateral conversion of Hindu mother M. Indira Gandhi’s three children into Islam, which ended her nine-year ordeal.

Related Articles