20 April, 2007

Uproar in Malaysia after Islamic officials separate a family

A prominent Malaysian lawyer said Wednesday that he was working to free a Muslim woman forcibly separated by Islamic authorities from her Hindu husband in a case that has sparked outrage.

Raimah Bibi Noordin and her five young Hindu children were taken from their home two weeks ago by religious officials who said she was a Muslim.

Under Malaysian laws, Muslims can be married only to other Muslims, forcing non-Muslims to convert for marriage.

Lawyer Karpal Singh said he was filing an application Thursday with a high court to free Raimah, 40, and her children, whom he said are being held in an ethnic Malay Muslim village.

“The wife and children are placed in a Malay majority area and directed not to get out. This is illegal detention,” he told AFP.

“This is scandalous. You cannot lock up people. Things are getting out of hand,” said Karpal, also a lawmaker and deputy chairman of the opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP).

The DAP has said that Raimah, an ethnic Indian, was adopted by an Indian Muslim family but is a practicing Hindu and married her Indian husband P. Marimuthu under Hindu rites.

Raimah’s case came amid rising religious tensions in Malaysia, where non-Muslims say their rights are being trampled on, and a number of Muslims are in legal battles for the right to convert out of Islam.

Rights groups Wednesday condemned the actions of the Islamic authorities, saying they breached the country’s constitution, which guarantees freedom of religious practice.

“As a Muslim I am frustrated by their action. There is nothing in Islam that says you can do this,” rights activist Latifah Koya told AFP.

“It is creating bad-blood among the various races in multiracial Malaysia,” she said.

S. Arutchelvan, of the rights group Voice of the Malaysian People, called on religious authorities to stay out of domestic issues.

“Their action to break up a family is high-handed and provocative,” he said.

(Source: Manila Times)

Marimuthu Periasamy files habeas corpus writ for release of wife and six children

Rubber tapper Marimuthu Periasamy, 43, has today filed habeas corpus writ for the release of his wife Raimah Bibi a/p Noordin and six children, Yoogneswary 12, Paramila 11, Hariharan 8, Ravindran 5, Shamala 5 and Keberan 4 from detention by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department for the past 17 days.

Periasamy, who filed the action through DAP National Chairman Karpal Singh as counsel, is seeking to be reunited with his wife and six children who were forcibly separated from him on 2nd April 2007 on the ground that they were Muslims.

Periasamy has filed a supporting affidavit stating that he and his wife were at all material times of the Indian race and they practiced and professed the Hindu religion. They brought up their chileren in the Hindu religion and beliefs.

Their children were given Indian names and they had lived in peace without interruption even though they earn a modest living.

Things changed in the morning of 2nd April 2007 when seven officers acting on behalf of the Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor (JAIS) raided their residence in Kampung Baru Tambahan, Ulu Yang, Selangor, detaining his wife and six children and forcibly took them away from their house. Marimuthu was threatened with “khalwat” if he attempted to stop them.

He immediately lodged a police report with the Ulu Yam Police Station the very same day.

Karpal is seeking an early date for the hearing of Marimuthu’s habeas corpus application.

(Lim Kit Siang)



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