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ICC Note: The family had been through quite an ordeal and has decided to sue the Islamic authorities.

Malaysian Christian family sues Islamic authorities following burial dispute

The Associated Press:

12/15/06 Malaysia (International Herald Tribune) A Malaysian Christian family on Friday sued Islamic authorities for causing emotional stress following a dispute over the body of a man whose religion was unclear when he died.

The widow and four children of Rayappan Anthony filed a lawsuit in the High Court seeking 10 million ringgit (US$2.9 million; €2.2 million) in damages from the Selangor state’s Islamic Religious Council, which had tried to give Rayappan a Muslim burial after he died.

The issue reignited fears among Malaysia ‘s non-Muslim minorities about their legal rights.

The lawsuit, seen by The Associated Press, said the Islamic council’s actions resulted in “emotional and mental pressure” and other losses for Rayappan’s family that justified financial compensation.

The High Court did not immediately schedule any date to hear to case. Islamic council officials could not immediately be contacted for comment.

Both the council and Rayappan’s family had filed petitions separately in the civil and Islamic courts to claim his body. But a legal resolution became unnecessary when the council agreed the family was right.

Many Buddhists, Christians and Hindus in Malaysia feel the Constitution and courts do not sufficiently safeguard their rights.

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

Rayappan’s case came up nearly a year after a national debate over the body of Maniam Moorthy, a former Hindu who was buried by Islamic authorities after the Islamic court ruled he had converted to Islam before his death.

Moorthy had never told his family of the conversion, and the High Court said it had no jurisdiction to hear his wife’s appeal in the case.

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