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(Compass) – Religious freedom has become a hot topic in Malaysia in recent weeks, sparked by a decision made in the Kelantan Sharia Court. Four Malay Muslims had originally applied to change their religion in 1992. Since all ethnic Malays are considered Muslims from birth under the constitution, all four were arrested and imprisoned for 20 months. The four eventually renounced Islam under a commissioner of oaths in 1998, hoping to sidestep the sharia (Islamic law) court system. However, they were then sentenced to contempt of court. Malaysians are now debating whether ethnic Malays have the right to choose their own religion under the terms of the constitution, the Quran and sharia law.