Thursday, August 24, 2006

Converting from Islam in Malaysia

Lina Joy was a Muslim, but she converted to Christianity eight years ago. Shouldn't be a big deal, but it is. Joy lives in Malaysia, a country with a majority Muslim population. Malaysia's becoming increasingly Islamic and has to worry anyone (including me) who believes there should be no problem marrying Islam with freedom & democracy.
In rulings in her case, civil courts said Malays could not renounce Islam because the Constitution defined Malays to be Muslims.

They also ruled that a request to change her identity card from Muslim to Christian had to be decided by the Shariah courts. There she would be considered an apostate, and if she did not repent she surely would be sentenced to several years in an Islamic center for rehabilitation.
President Bush has often stated that democracy can take many forms. Well, a democracy that doesn't allow someone to change their religion without the possibility of being sent to some religious re-education camp is pretty far removed from a bastion of liberty.

If this is the best we can hope for with the 'democratize the world' push, then let's just stop bothering.