Article 12(4) allows the religion of a person under the age of eighteen years to be decided by his/her parent. Together with the courts’ decision that unilateral conversions are legal, Zarinah’s case should be straightforward
However, in reality, it isn’t all that clear. Now that Zarinah is a major and wants to renounce Islam, she can’t do so without her father’s approval
Logically, as the person who converted his daughter, Zarinah’s father wouldn’t want her to leave Islam. Is it then fair that Zarinah needs her father’s consent to be officially and legally acknowledged as a Hindu?
It is a fait accompli that Islam considers it a major offence for Muslims to convert out of Islam. Despite that, it is important to note that Zarinah did not choose to embrace Islam. It was legally chosen for her by her father
Hence now that her father’s authority to select her religion on her behalf has ceased, shouldn’t she be allowed to make her own choice?
Furthermore, why does Zarinah need her father’s approval? She is already of age and mentally capable to choose for herself. It’s difficult to comprehend the logic behind such a requirement
Our ever popular Article 11(1) which guarantees the right of every person to practice & profess his/her religion is undoubtedly in favour of Zarinah who grew up taking part in Hindu rituals and practices
The authorities MUST now act swiftly to resolve the dilemma Zarinah is facing. Malaysia cannot risk being labelled an ‘irrational and oppressive country’
Enough is enough. Do something about it!
*This article is also featured on The Malaysian Insider