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Malaysia withdraws bill allowing unilateral conversion

Last Updated: Monday, July 8, 2013 - 15:37

Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia on Monday withdrew a controversial bill that allows one parent to give consent for the conversion of a child following an outcry over two minor ethnic Indian Hindu children embracing Islam without their mother`s permission.

The controversial Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 was withdrawn from parliament following a motion by Minister in the Prime Minister`s department Jamil Khir Baharom.

Baharom moved the motion to withdraw the bill for its second third and fourth reading and from being debated on.

The bill was tabled for the first reading in Parliament on June 26.

Various groups had voiced their opposition to the bill, which included a controversial provision allowing a child to be converted with the consent of only one parent.
On Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin had said the bill would be withdrawn until an agreement was reached with all stakeholders.

He said the Cabinet decided to withdraw the bill from the current parliament meeting following concerns from various quarters, including the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional`s component party members. The component party include Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) and Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC).
The move comes after two ethnic Indian Hindu children were converted to Islam without their mother`s consent, triggering protests from the country`s Bar Council which called unilateral conversion as illegal.

According to a media report, ethnic Indian Hindu woman identified as S Deepa, 29, from Jelebu, discovered that her husband, who left her 16 months ago, had converted their two children into Islam without her knowledge.

Multi ethnic Malaysia`s 28 million population includes 25 percent ethnic Chinese who are mostly Buddhists or Christians and eight percent ethnic Indians who are mostly Hindus.

First Published: Monday, July 8, 2013 - 15:37

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