Nik Abduh: Child conversion bill will damage faith of Muslims

nik-abduh

PETALING JAYA: PAS has called on Muslims to oppose a bill tabled in Parliament which, upon being passed, will put in place legal safeguards against unilateral conversion of minors to Islam.

PAS Youth chief Nik Mohamad Abduh Nik Abdul Aziz said the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) (Amendment) Act 2016 did not bring any improvement to the status quo, but instead made the situation worse.

“Umno will be held fully responsible before God if the bill is passed,” he said in a statement.

He claimed that it would damage the faith and obstruct Muslims from observing shariah law for themselves and their families.

“The Muslim community is obliged to unite in rejecting the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) (Amendment) Act 2016,” he said.

The bill is intended to resolve conflicts in raising children that arise when a mother or father singly converts to Islam.

On March 26, the DAP’s Ipoh Barat MP M Kulasegaran had said he had received feedback that “powerful people” were attempting to stop the bill from being presented as scheduled during the current sitting of the Dewan Rakyat, which ends on April 6.

He said the bill was to be debated this week as it had been listed as No. 4 in the Order Paper of Parliament for the last two weeks, but that it had since been pushed down to No. 8.

“This clearly indicates there is no priority in getting this bill passed,” he said

The bill was tabled for first reading in the Dewan Rakyat by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Azalina Othman Said on Nov 21 last year.

Following this, PAS secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan had assured that the party would not interfere in the effort to stop unilateral conversion of minors on the condition that non-Muslim legislators did not object to the shariah amendment bill pushed forward by PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang.

“If they (non-Muslims) want to object to a law that would only impact Muslims, then we can also object to this proposed amendment,” he had said in November.

The bill seeks to bring amendments to the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 which is also known as Act 164.

It was mooted in the wake of several court cases that saw tussles between husbands and wives over their children after one parent had converted the children to Islam without the approval of the other.

The bill will allow the civil courts to determine those cases that involve marriages done through civil registration, even though one of the spouses had embraced Islam.

The amendments include a new Section 88A that says both parties in the civil marriage need to agree to change the religion of the underaged child to Islam.

Lawyer Haniff Khatri Abdulla had yesterday said the amendment was void as it would infringe Islamic law.

Haniff said, according to Islam, when a mother or father had taken to Islam, a child who had not reached puberty would automatically become a Muslim.

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