CHRISTIANITY DAILY

Malaysia: High Court Allows Man to Legally Convert from Islam to Christianity

Malaysia church
(Photo : Kawaputra/Wikimedia/CC) The Lutheran Zion Church in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur, established in 1924.

A Malaysian man who had been trying for years to formally convert from Islam to Christianity has finally been allowed to officially be registered as a Christian.

The court asked that Sarawak Islamic Religious Department and the Sarawak Islamic Council to give the 41-year-old man a letter of official release from Islam.

The national Registry in the country has also been ordered to change his name to Roneey Anak Rebit from Azmi Mohamad Azam Shah, according to Borneo Post.

Rooney was converted to Islam by his parents, when he was 10 years old. Justice Datuk Yew Jen Kie said that Rebit did not profess Islamic faith as he was converted as a child, and it was not based on informed choice. In 1999, he was baptized as a Christian when he was 24 years old, and thus capable of making a personal decision.

Sarawak Islamic Religious Department and the Sarawak Islamic Council had already given him No Objection from leaving Islam. But the National Registration Department asked for a confirmation from Syariah Court, which was not under its jurisdiction as he had undergone the conversion as a minor.

The justice directed his decision as per Article 11 of the constitution, which cites freedom of religion as a right granted to citizens.

Malaysia is a Muslim-majority country with 61.3 percent adherents, 19.8 percent Buddhists, 9.2 percent Christians, and 6.3 percent Hindus.

The major denominations of Christianity in Malaysia are Baptists, Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterian, Roman Catholics, independent Charismatic churches, and non-denominational churches.

CEO of Open Doors USA, David Curry, told the CBN News that the new ruling may be a precedent to freer stance on conversions taken by the government from now on.

"The importance of this decision to Christians in Malaysia cannot be overstated and ACS [Association of Churches] is thankful to the High Court for coming to a fair and just decision in accordance with the law," ACS Malaysian Sarawak Secretary-general Ambrose Linang told World Watch Monitor.

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