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Thursday, 12 July 2018 | MYT 8:20 PM

Lawyer: Muslim convert mother had no right to convert children without father's consent

KUALA LUMPUR:  A Muslim convert mother had unilaterally converted her two children to Islam, a High Court here heard.

Lawyer K. Shanmuga, who acted for the Buddhist businessman, said in the present case, both mother and father needed to give their consent to convert their two children.

Shanmuga said the 42-year-old mother had converted her then eight-year-old daughter and four-year-old son to Islam in the Federal Territory, when the children have always been residing in Selangor.

''She went to the Federal Territory, when she does not even live there, to convert the children.

''The children were too young when they uttered the Affirmation of Faith (Kalimah Syahadah) on May 11, 2016," submitted Shanmuga before the High Court (Appellate and Special Powers) judge Justice Azizah Nawawi yesterday. 

"They did not understand the meaning of it. The children were informed of the meaning in English."

The conversion of the two children to Islam had caused a dispute between their Muslim convert mother and their Buddhist father.

The mother had converted to Islam in December 2015 and obtained custody of the two children from the Shah Alam High Court in April this year. The children had converted to Islam on May 11, 2016.

Shanmuga added that the Federal Court has held before that the Constitution requires that both parents, if both are still alive, must consent for the conversion of a child to another religion.

Meanwhile, lawyer Nizam Bashir who appeared for the Federal Territories Registrar of Muallaf (new converts), said the businessman father was given visitation rights to the children while the mother was given sole custody, care and control of the children.

In his application filed on June 14, 2016, the businessman father named the director-general of Jawi (Federal Territories religious department), Federal Territories Registrar of Muallaf, the director-general of the Education Ministry, the Federal Government and the 42-year-old mother as respondents.

The father has applied for leave to initiate a judicial review to quash the conversion of his then eight-year-old daughter and four-year-old son by his Muslim convert wife.

The Buddhist father is also seeking an injunction to stop the respondents and each one of them from registering or causing to be registered any change of children’s religion to Islam.

He also wants an order to revoke any documents that are in the possession of the Registrar of Muallaf or Education Ministry.

Alternatively, he is seeking a declaration that the certificate of conversions of the two children are null and void.