PETALING JAYA: Umno’s Nazri Aziz said as a Muslim, he was “not proud” about the controversial unilateral conversions in the country as they were unfair.
Debating the King’s address in the Dewan Rakyat today, the Padang Rengas MP highlighted the case of Loh Siew Hong and M Indira Gandhi — both mothers who had children converted to Islam without their permission.
“As a Muslim, I am not proud of this,” said the former law minister.
“For me, Islam is about being fair. And it’s not fair if one of the parents changes the religion of their child without the other parent’s permission.
“Don’t do to others what you don’t want others to do to you.”
Loh’s case has reignited a debate on the matter despite a 2018 Federal Court ruling in Indira’s case which stated that conversions require the consent of both parents.
Some, like Perlis mufti Asri Zainul Abidin, who defended the conversion of Loh’s three children, argue that state laws allow for unilateral conversions.
Nazri, who last year said he would be retiring from politics after six terms as an MP, also stressed there should be no compulsion by any party to forcibly convert people to Islam.
Asri last month confirmed that the state’s religious department had registered Loh’s children as Muslims upon the request of their father three years ago, a move which has been decried by civil liberty groups and religious bodies.
Asri said the conversion of Loh’s children was legal under Perlis law as under a 2016 Perlis Islamic enactment, either the father, mother or a guardian can convert their children (minors) to Islam.
However, Nazri stressed the Federal Constitution states that the words “parent or guardian” mean both parents or guardians — and that he “did not agree at all with the forced conversion of these children”, referring to Loh’s children.
While he noted that the Federal Constitution states that Islam is the “religion of the Federation”, he says this means Muslims have a responsibility to ensure that the rights and interests of minorities are taken care of.
“While it’s true that 60% (of Malaysians) are Muslims, and Islam is the religion of the Federation, this does not mean we can oppress minorities,” he said.
“I mean, these non-Muslims will be living in fear … Every time non-Muslim couples have a fight, after the argument, the husband can convert. And convert the children as well. There have been four or five cases like this already.
“That’s not fair. We are not taking care of the interests of the minorities. We cannot do that.”
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