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Malaysian Man Buried as Muslim After Dispute

ICC Note:

The case of an ethnic Chinese man in Malaysia ended Thursday when the Islamic Shariah High Court ruled against the majority of his family in burying the Buddhist man as a Muslim.


1/25/2008 Malaysia (AP) An Islamic Shariah High Court in the central Negeri Sembilan state ruled Thursday that Gan Eng Gor, 74, also identified in court documents as Amir Gan Abdullah, was a Muslim and should be buried according to Islamic rites. The burial took place late Thursday.

The dispute was the latest in an increasing number of interfaith conflicts that have raised tensions in multiethnic Malaysia, where minority non-Muslims feel their religious rights are under threat.

The dead man’s body was seized by police after a complaint by his eldest son, Abdul Rahman Gan, a Muslim convert. He claimed his father had changed his religion from Buddhism to Islam last July.

He said the police seized the body as the family was carrying out Buddhist rites in a Chinese funeral parlor.

The family had asked the state’s civil High Court to hear the case, but a judge ruled he had no jurisdiction in the matter as the Shariah court had already made a decision, said a court official, who declined to be named citing protocol.

Malaysia has a dual court system for civil matters, in which Muslims are governed by Islamic courts and non-Muslims go to secular courts. But non-Muslims complain that civil courts have been more than willing to cede authority to the Islamic courts in cases involving conversions, and that this makes favorable decisions for them less likely.

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