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Federal Court rejects appeals to leave Islam

Supporters from both religions are present outside the Court House in Kuching.

KUCHING: The Federal Court yesterday rejected appeals from four appellants who wanted to leave Islam (apostasy) because apostasy comes under the jurisdiction of the Syariah Court.

The decision was unanimously made by the five judges led by the Court of Appeal president, Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin. The other four judges were Tan Sri Ahmad Maarop, Tan Sri Hasan Lah, Tan Sri Ramly Ali and Tan Sri Jeffrey Tan.

“There is section 68 and 69 of the Sarawak Islamic Council ordinance that can be used by the State Syariah Court to listen on apostasy cases,” said Zulkefli.

Lawyer Joshua Baru, representing the four appellants, said the next step would depend on whether his clients wanted to proceed with the case.

“Should they want to proceed with the case, they need to bring forward the case to the Syariah Court,” said Joshua.

Even though the State Syariah Court has no jurisdiction on the Syariah Court Ordinance regarding apostasy, the Federal Court implied there is jurisdiction under the Sarawak Islamic Religion Council (MAIS).

Three appellants, Mohd Syafiq Abdullah @ Tiong Choo Ting, Nur Muzdhalifah Abdullah @ Jenny Peter and Salina Abdullah converted to Muslim through marriage.

However, Nur Muzdhalifah and Salina converted to Christian after both were divorced from their spouses in 2006 and 2010 respectively.

Mohd Syafiq also converted back to Christian after his wife passed away in 2007.

Meanwhile, the fourth person, Syarifah Nooraffyzza Wan Hose was born as Muslim and converted out of Islam in 2009.

In 2015, the High Court refused to listen to their cases for reason that the civil court has no jurisdiction on apostasy cases. They decided to make an appeal to the Federal Court after the Court of Appeal rejected their cases in 2016.

However, all the appellants were not present in court yesterday.

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