The federal government must state its stand on a 2009 Cabinet decision which declared that no child can be converted into Islam without consent from both parents, said a non-Muslim interfaith council.
The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism was responding to the latest reported case in Negeri Sembilan, where a 29-year-old Hindu mother found out that her estranged husband who converted to Islam had in April converted their two children without her knowledge.
S. Deepa, 29, reportedly said her lorry-driver husband N Viran, 30, left the family 16 months ago without a trace and she was shocked to find him with their two children at the Pusat Dakwah Islamiah Negeri Sembilan on April 4.
“I demanded an explanation from the officer in charge. He told me he converted my children as my husband told him that I was having an affair with another man and that I sold my body and I was unable to take care of my children,” Deepa was quoted saying by an online portal.
The council in a statement today said Deepa’s predicament was not an isolated case and was tantamount to committing an “injustice” against the non-Muslim parent.
In 2009, then de-facto law minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz had announced that minors were to be bound by the common religion of their parents while they were married, even if one parent later becomes a Muslim.
“The MCCBCHST is appalled that Mithran and Sharmila, aged five and eight, are now Muslims – but in the custody of their non-Muslim mother,” said the council.
“ls it not mandatory for the officer converting underage children to verify custody and other issues from their newly converted parent?” the council asked.
Other questions raised by the council include whether the conversion process can be reversed.
When contacted by theSun, Negeri Sembilan Islamic Affairs Department director Datuk Johani Hassan maintained that underaged children should become Muslim upon conversion of one parent.
“Even though a mother has custodial rights of underaged children, this does not apply if she is not Muslim,” he said, adding that the father has a responsibility to “rescue” his children from being brought up in another faith.
(The Sun, June 14th 2013)
The MCCBCHST stand is to be praised.