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News – Malaysia’s religious intolerance

July 2007

The Federal Court in Malaysia has rejected a Muslim convert’s request to be legally recognised as a Christian. Azlina Jailani, now known as Lina Joy, has been trying for six years to have the word Islam removed from her identity card. The court’s decision marks the end of her final appeal. About 200 protesters shouted ‘Allah-o-Akbar’ (God is great) outside the court when the ruling was announced.

Under Sharia law, Muslims are not allowed to convert to another religion. Malaysia’s constitution guarantees freedom of worship, but says all ethnic Malays are Muslim and subject to Sharia law. The ruling was handed down despite Lina Joy’s defence that as a Christian she should not be bound by Sharia law.

According to The Times Lina Joy was baptised in 1998, has been disowned by her family and forced to quit her job. Last year she went into hiding following threats against her and her Muslim lawyer.