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Posted: 8/24/2006 9:01:25 PM EDT
Malaysia is considered a "moderate" country. It seems that kind of definition changes upon examination of the facts.

The New York Times reports:
[Malaysian] Lina Joy ... converted from Islam to Christianity eight years ago and since then has endured extraordinary hurdles in her desire to marry the man in her life.... he is now in hiding after death threats from Islamic extremists, who accuse her of being an apostate.

Five years ago she started proceedings in the civil courts to seek the right to marry her Christian fiancé and have children. Because she had renounced her Muslim faith, Ms. Joy, 42, argued, Malaysia’s Islamic Shariah courts, which control such matters as marriage, property and divorce, did not have jurisdiction over her.

In a series of decisions, the civil courts ruled against her....

About 60 percent of Malaysia’s 26 million people are Muslim, 20 percent are Buddhist, nearly 10 percent are Christian and 6 percent Hindu....

In rulings in her case, civil courts said Malays could not renounce Islam because the Constitution defined Malays to be Muslims.

They also ruled that a request to change her identity card from Muslim to Christian had to be decided by the Shariah courts. There she would be considered an apostate, and if she did not repent she surely would be sentenced to several years in an Islamic center for rehabilitation....

Last month, Prime Minister Badawi appeared to side with the Islamists when he ordered that forums organized around the country to discuss religious freedom must stop. The forums, run by a group called Article 11, named after the section of the Constitution that says Malaysians are free to choose their religion, were disrupted on several occasions by Islamic protesters....

“Church members know us as who we are, and the outside world knows us as we were,” [another convert] said. He was fearful, he said, that if his conversion became public the religious authorities would come after him, and he could be sentenced to a religious rehabilitation camp.

One such place, hidden in the forest at Ulu Yam Baru, 20 miles outside the capital, is ringed like a prison by barbed wire, with dormitories protected by a second ring of barbed wire. Outside a sign says, “House of Faith,” and inside the inmates spend much of their time studying Islam....

Thanks to Cynthia Reed for the pointer.
Link Posted: 8/24/2006 9:03:06 PM EDT
Color me surprised.

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NOT
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