26 June, 2008

Yet another Case of Hindu to be buried as Muslim

B.Elangesvaran, aged 34, hanged himself on June 22. After the autopsy, the Parit Buntar hospital in Penang did not give his body back to his family, because the Islamic religious department says that the man had converted to Islam, and must be given an Islamic funeral.

S. Selvam, 48, a former mee goreng (fried noodles) seller, filed the summons at the High Court registry here on Wednesday, naming the state Islamic Religious Affairs Department, the Perak Islamic Religious Department and the Parit Buntar Hospital director as defendants.

He is seeking a declaration that B. Elangesvaran, 34, was a Hindu when alive and when the latter allegedly committed suicide four days ago.

He is asking the court for an injunction to restrain the defendants, their workers or agents, from claiming Elangesvaran's body.

Selvam also wants an injunction to stop the first and second defendants from claiming Elangesvaran's body and from interfering with the release of the deceased's body to him to perform the last funeral rites according to the Hindu custom.

In his statement of claim, Selvam represented by R.S.N. Rayer, said Elangesvaran had committed suicide by hanging himself at a house in Bagan Serai, Perak on June 22.

He claimed that after the post mortem, a hospital staff informed the deceased's family that the body could not be released to the family as the deceased had converted to Islam at the Penang Religious Affairs Department.

Selvam said he had contacted the Perak Islamic Religious Department (Parit Buntar is in Perak) for confirmation and proof of his brother's conversion but the department had failed to provide him with any official documents with the deceased's signature or thumbprint as proof of his conversion.

“I was only served with a police report alleging that my brother had embraced Islam at the Penang Islamic Religious Deparment in Lebuh Pantai and a letter, with some scribbling allegedly done by Elangesvaran, that he had converted.

“The letter, however, did not contain my brother's signature or thumbprint or the signatures of any witnesses to indicate that he had embraced Islam as required under the tenets of Islam,'' he said.

Selvam claimed that since the religious authorities could not provide him with the necessary documents to show that Elangesvaran had legally and rightfully embraced Islam, the defendants had no right to claim his brother's body, which is currently being kept at the Parit Buntar Hospital mortuary.

He is also seeking damages, costs and other relief deemed fit by the court.

The defendants, who were served with the summons Wednesday afternoon, have 14 days to file their notice of appearance.

- The Star

A. Vaithilingam, president of the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism, notes how "people who never knew him want to bury him, and are not permitting his family to take care of this". "It's the same old story. ... Every time there is a problem, the government makes a statement to ease tension and then forgets all about it".

- From Asia News.it

The question is complex in part because the judicial system provides both tribunals for non-Muslims and Islamic sharia to handle legal questions for the Muslim faithful, where the rights of non-Islamic minorities are often sacrificed.

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