Malaysia’s Religious Courts Win Again

(Asia Sentinel) – In a confusing and emotionally fraught decision, Malaysia’s high court delivers judicial primacy to syariah courts again

Malaysia has found itself once again in middle of a messy religious and judicial controversy after the country’s highest court earlier this week threw out a bid by a 28-year-old Indian woman who took her estranged husband to court in an effort to prevent him from converting the couple’s 2-year-old son to Islam.

The woman, a Hindu housewife and secretary identified only as R Subashini, went to the courts in an effort to prevent her 32-year-old businessman spouse, T Saravanan, who assumed the name Muhammad Shafi Saravan Abdullah and converted to Islam in 2006, from taking matrimonial proceedings to Malaysia’s syariah, or religious court. When Shafi converted to Islam and confronted Subashini with the news, she attempted suicide and was hospitalized. When she recovered, she discovered Shafi had converted their four-year-old son to Islam. She feared that he would not only convert the younger child, but that she would lose custody and visitation rights.