Malaysian courts have ruled they cannot overturn decisions by Islamic courts that banned Christians who had converted to Islam from converting back to Christianity.
A Christian man who converted to Islam to marry a Muslim woman has been told by a civil court that he cannot legally renounce his Islamic identity. His wedding took place in 2010 before the couple divorced five years later.
The man’s application to a Sharia court to renounce Islam and return to Christianity was rejected. Worthy News reports he was ordered to attend ‘counseling sessions,’ instead. He appealed to the civil courts with the case eventually reaching the High Court of Malaysia. A judge ruled that civil courts have no power to reverse decisions made by Sharia courts.
Just weeks earlier, the High Court made a similar decision relating to a 57-year-old woman’s bid to return to Christianity. It ruled it had no power to interfere in cases concerning the renunciation of Islam. The High Court refused to hear the woman’s petition seeking a judicial review to overturn an earlier decision from the Sharia Court.
The woman was born into a Christian family and converted to Islam for marriage in 1995. She and her husband divorced in 2013 and she wanted to return to her original faith, but the Islamic Sharia court refused her permission to do so. The Sharia High Court rejected her application in 2020 and the Sharia Appellate Court affirmed the decision this year.
Persecution watchdog Open Doors reports that every ethnic Malay is expected to be Muslim. It adds that under Sharia law, renouncing Islam can be punishable by death.