Pakatan stands with mother in religious conversion flap

By Debra Chong (The Malaysian Insider)

KUALA LUMPUR, May 3 – Pakatan Rakyat (PR) today gave their backing to a High Court decision which granted interim custody of three children to Indira Gandhi, who is fighting her estranged husband over his new faith.

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the opposition leader, broke his silence today on the religious conversion issue brought on by a recent cabinet decision which controversially decreed that children should be brought up in the faith of the parents even after one partner converts to Islam.

Speaking to reporters after chairing a meeting with other PR leaders, he said the alliance plans to set up a committee to scrutinise religious disputes.

He noted, however, that the cabinet had failed to consult religious and social leaders as well as legal experts.

PAS president Datuk Seri Hadi Awang also slammed the cabinet decision over the failure to consult religious leaders.

Hadi also pointed out that the father should not be separated from the children, to which Anwar cut in and said: “We regard such a separation as a win for only one party.”

DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang backed the idea of setting up a committee to resolve religious disputes, which he notes had increased in recent years.

Various Muslim groups, including those aligned with Umno, as well as some PAS leaders had slammed the cabinet decision for being a betrayal of Islam.

The unease among various Muslims has put Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in a sticky situation.

But PR leaders have also been uneasy over the controversy, and also appear divided over the issue.

Their remarks today was the first time PR had a made a joint stand on the issue.