(Reuters) - Malaysia is expecting a court ruling any day now that could shake society to its foundations: does a Muslim have the right to convert to another faith?
A Muslim by birth, Lina Joy decided to become a Christian, marry and raise a family. But in Malaysia, where Islam is the official religion, this is an affair of state, not conscience.
The 42-year-old has asked the Federal Court, the country's highest civil judicial authority, to acknowledge her decision to convert to Christianity and is now awaiting a verdict.
Constitutionally, freedom of religion is guaranteed (in Malaysia). But in reality, conversion out of Islam comes under the ambit of sharia or Islamic courts. And under sharia law, renouncing the Islamic faith is punishable by fines or jail. It isn't an option.
Renouncing Islam is also punishable by death under Sharia, but don't expect al-Reuters to tell you that little detail.
Now, listen to the hysterical Muslims as they argue against Lina Joy's case. They can't help themselves but to issue threats, veiled or otherwise.
A court victory for Joy could be explosive."It's political dynamite. It will create instability," Abdul Razak said. "For decades, the position of Malays and Muslims have been guaranteed.
"It will open the floodgates. Now you see Malays are going to convert and the government sanctions that. Definitely there will be a huge backlash and PAS is going to town with it."
Parti Islam se-Malaysia (PAS), the country's biggest Islamic opposition party, agrees."It will be a bad precedent," PAS deputy chief Nasharuddin Mat Isa told Reuters. "It will create some uneasiness in the Malay community. It could lead to demonstrations."
In other words, it WILL lead to demonstrations, and worse. Boycotts, riots, and violence are all cards in PAS's unsavory toolbox, and ones certainly to be played if the Federal Court doesn't go along. PAS, the party that best embodies the Malaysian wing of the Global Jihad, is guaranteeing it.
The influential Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia, the Muslim youth group once led by former deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim, wrote a letter asking the Federal Court to dismiss the appeal. "Allowing Malays to leave Islam automatically will erode the status, the rights and the privileges of Malays," it said.
What rubbish. To Muslims, coercing people to stay within a religion they consciously reject is a 'right' and a 'privilege'. Total nonsense. But what else can we expect Muslims to say?