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ICC Note: Despite the fact that this man was Christians, because he was once a Muslim the case is decided under Islamic law which cannot be overturned by the other court system. It is injustice

Abdullah or Anthony – and why it matters

12/2/06 Malaysia (Today online) The Sharia court decided to hand over the body of a 71-year-old man to the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (Jais), even though his family claims he was a Christian.

The man converted to Islam in 1990, but apparently returned to his Christian roots nine years later. The case echoes that of climber M Moorthy, who received a Muslim burial last December, though his wife insisted that he was a practicing Hindu.

The ripples from the Moorthy case — which was also adjudicated by the Sharia court — have barely died down when the Rayappan episode threatens to strain inter-religious ties.

In his case, the complication arises from his second marriage. In 1990, Mr Ra-yappan took a Muslim woman as his second wife, converted to Islam and changed his name to Muhamad Rayappan Abdullah.

The family claim that that relationship ended in 1999, when Mr Rayappan was again baptized to his original faith. The problem? He forgot to tell the religious affairs department.

He did, however, keep other agencies in the loop. For example, he informed the National Registration Department in 1999 that he had renounced Islam and would use the name “Rayappan Anthony” in all documents.

And when he was issued a in 2000, his religion was listed as Christian.

When the diabetic died in hospital on Wednesday, a neighbor who knew that Mr Rayappan had once converted to Islam tipped off the religious affairs department.

The department applied to the Sharia court for the remains and was successful. His family’s lawyer, Mr A Sivanesan, has appealed to the hospital not to release the body until the matter is heard by a civil court on Monday.

In the case of Mr Moorthy, too, his wife had appealed against the decision of the Sharia court that her husband should be considered a Muslim. The High Court had then ruled it had no jurisdiction over the issue.

In Mr Rayappan’s case, lawyers argue that if he had embraced Christianity, the Sharia courts should not be deciding his case.

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