Posted on 13 November 2011 - 01:55pm
Last updated on 14 November 2011 - 07:53am
KUCHING (Nov 13, 2011): The state government does not intend to adopt anti-apostasy law because Sarawak practises religious freedom where each and every individual can choose the religion of his or her choice.
However, Assistant Minister of Islamic Affairs Datuk Daud Abdul Rahman said, this does not mean that the State Islamic Department was encouraging all those who had converted to Islam to leave the religion.
“We do not encourage converts to leave the religion neither do we have an iron grip on them. We can only advice them,” said Daud yesterday, reiterating that the state upholds the rights of individuals where religion is concerned.
Daud was commenting on a recent statement by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom that it was up to the individual states to propose an anti-apostasy law.
Speaking to reporters after attending a graduation and award presentation ceremony at Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) Matang, Daud said Muslims in the state are not the majority and it would create bad feelings among the non-Muslims if the Anti-Apostasy Act was to be implemented.
Daud said the state, unlike West Malaysia, looks at religion from a different point of view and if converts really want to leave the religion after being advised against it, there is nothing much that the State Religious Department can do.
“However, we have set up a committee called ‘Akidah Committee’ headed by the State Mufti to help the new converts and to counsel them on religious matters,” he said. Daud explained that a convert who wanted to leave the religion would normally inform the State Religious Department about it and he (the convert) would be given counselling sessions by officers from the department for up to a year before he (the convert) makes a final decision.
The Assistant Minister said that he had personally received requests from several individuals regarding the matter, and his solution was always to let the individuals decide what was best for them.
Most converts, he said, converted to Islam for the sake of marrying a Muslim man or woman and they had almost zero knowledge about Islam.
“Even their Muslim partner may have very little knowledge of Islam and they tend to lead a non-Islamic way of life after conversion, leading them to think that there is no difference if they go back to their old beliefs.
“Another problem is that those who want to leave the religion have to deal with the National Registration Department in deleting the ‘bin’ or ‘binti’ from their name as displayed in the identification card,” he said.