Conversion Issues in Malaysia: A Challenge to Religious and Racial Harmony
There is a worrying trend recently of inter-religious cases which have fuelled angst amongst multiracial communities in Malaysia, and which threaten to disrupt racial harmony or dismantle the 1Malaysia Unity Framework. We refer to the recent case of a “Muslim” bride (named Zarina Majid) marrying her Hindu boyfriend of seven years.
The earlier version of her story goes like this. Zarina was a product of the law which at its time allowed a unilateral conversion of minors by their parents who converted to Islam. Zarina’s parents married as Hindus in 1980. Her father converted to Islam at the urging of a relative while her mother remained a Hindu. It was reported that they remained in the “dual-religion” marriage for a good number of years, and Zarina said that her mother, being illiterate, did not realise that her children were Muslims. Her father registered them as Muslims in their birth certificates and in their MyKad (the national identity card). The problem arose when their father left his home after the birth of Zarina’s brother in 1990 and abandoned them. As a result of abandonment, Zarina was Muslim in name only, nurtured by her Hindu mother to become a practising Hindu, whilst the Muslim father moved on with his life presumably to marry a Muslim wife.