"Civil courts cannot interfere," Chief Justice Ahmad Fairuz said. "In short, she cannot, at her own whim, simply enter or leave her religion... She must follow rules," he said .
With due respect, I thought the comment by the Chief Justice was unnecessary and uncalled for. Lina’s decision to leave Islam, I’m sure, was not on a mere whim or fancy, nor was it simply taken. She made a willful choice; she took a principled stand with both eyes open to consequences large and small; she lost her job, her home, family and friends. Yet she pursued her cause for a nightmarish 7 years at the courts that showed her neither compassion nor compunction for denying her fundamental right to freedom of conscience and belief.
This ‘human tragedy’ (The Becket Fund) is compounded when one remembers that Malaysia is a pioneer member of the revamped United Nations Human Rights Council, operating under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (ironically according to Aliran, Malaysia is among member states that has ratified the least number of human rights treaties and conventions). Article 18 says:
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.Back on earth, in the real world that is Malaysia, for Lina to be told she must follow “rules” is a shame. Because her day at the courts was precisely to determine whose rules apply – the Federal Constitution or Syariah. On May 30, Malaysians were left in no doubt which one rules.