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ICC Note: It is good that the Islamic court was willing to rule based on the facts and not on their desire to have this man be claimed as a Muslim.

Islamic Authorities Drop Claim Over Malaysian Christian’s Body

12/7/06 Malaysia (Christian Post) The body of van driver Rayappan Anthony, has remained in a hospital morgue while his family was locked in a legal dispute with Islamic authorities over who should perform the burial.

Islamic authorities had argued that Rayappan, converted to Islam in 1990, and that they should be given the body for an Islamic burial. But Rayappan’s family maintained he renounced Islam and returned to Roman Catholicism in 1999 without informing Islamic authorities.

Both sides had filed petitions separately in the civil and Islamic courts.

The Selangor Islamic Religious Council said Thursday it has decided not to claim Rayappan’s body for burial after consulting religious experts.

Council chairman Mohamed Adzib Mohamad Isa was quoted by Bernama as saying there was “overwhelming” evidence showing Rayappan was not a Muslim.

“With this, we withdrew the case from the court today and will not make any other claim,” he said. “I hope the matter is solved and we don’t think the people will view us negatively because we make the decision based on the existing facts and not emotion.”

The council’s decision brought a swift end to the latest controversy over minority rights in Muslim-majority Malaysia , where decades-long multiracial harmony has come into question over concerns that Islam, the official religion, is diminishing other faiths.

Many Buddhists, Christians and Hindus in Malaysia feel the Constitution and courts do not sufficiently safeguard their rights. But Muslim leaders have warned that giving minorities concessions would erode the status of Islam.

Malay Muslims make up about 60 percent of Malaysia ‘s population, while most of the rest are Buddhists, Hindus or Christians from the ethnic Chinese and Indian communities.

Nazri Aziz, the law minister, has said Rayappan’s case appears clear-cut since the family is apparently able to prove that he had renounced Islam — his widow has produced his national identity card, which states his religion as Christianity.

A resolution of the case was slowed by Malaysia ‘s parallel legal processes — the family went to the civil court, while the Islamic affairs department petitioned the Islamic court, which exclusively governs Muslim issues.

Rayappan’s widow and three daughters were asked to testify in the Islamic court on Wednesday but refused, saying the court has no jurisdiction over non-Muslims.

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