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Malaysia withdraws conversion law

AFP-JIJI

Malaysia has withdrawn an Islamic law that allows one parent to give consent for the religious conversion of their child, reports said Saturday, after an outcry that it discriminated against minorities.

The government has previously considered amending existing legislation so that children’s conversion requires the consent of both parents.

Conversion is a sensitive issue in the Muslim-majority nation where members of minority faiths say they do not get a fair hearing under religious courts in custodial cases.

A 29-year-old Hindu woman recently claimed her estranged husband converted their children to Islam without her knowledge after embracing the religion last year. Under Shariah law, a non-Muslim parent cannot share custody of converted children.

Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said the Cabinet discussed the issues surrounding the status of a child’s religion when the mother or father converts to Islam, reported the Star newspaper. “We agreed that the bill’s withdrawal was necessary to ensure that such cases were resolved in a fair manner to all,” he said.

Public pressure has prompted the government to withdraw the law, said Tian Chua, a lawmaker belonging to the People’s Justice Party led by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.