Malaysia’s Denial of Freedom of Religion


In an appalling decision, the Supreme Court of Malaysia has denied Lina Joy, a woman born Muslim who converted to Christianity as an adult, the right to change her legal status to Christian. This decision violates the freedom of conscience in the most fundamental way, as expressed in major statements of international law such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, of which Article 18 states:

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.

Malaysia is a so-called “moderate Muslim” nation. This decision is an excellent example of the danger to freedom posed even by “moderate” Islam, and why religion in general, and Islam in particular, should be rigorously separated from government.

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