Sun (Used by permission)
by Tan Yi Liang
PETALING JAYA: The Bar Council is holding a half–day public forum on Saturday to address the legal issues and the impact of recent highly–publicised cases of conversions to Islam.
The forum, to be held from 8.30am to 1pm at the Bar Council Secretariat in Kuala Lumpur, is titled “Conversion to Islam: Art 121(1A) of the Federal Constitution, Subashini & Shamala Revisited”. It is part of efforts by the council’s Family Law Committee to draw attention to the various elements of family law involving Islam that require reform.
In a press statement issued yesterday, the council said the objective of the forum was to highlight the plight of families caught in legal disputes resulting from conflicts in the civil and syariah legal systems.
“We need to discuss the plight of families embroiled in the legal wrangles brought about by the present conflicts in the laws and to have an open, frank and mature forum with views on both sides of the religious divide,” it said, adding that the panel would explore the question of resolving confl icts between a Muslim and a non–Muslim in a marriage.
“It is of concern to the council that the issue of conversion to Islam of one spouse without the knowledge of the other and the conversion to Islam of the children by one spouse without the knowledge and consent of the other have caused so much grief and discord to families from the ensuing legal wrangles.
“The legal implications are far reaching, beyond the question of the jurisdiction of the courts as the division of properties, custody battles for the children and the marital status of the couples and alimonies are thrust in the open and into turmoil.”
The forum panel, to be moderated by Zarizana Abdul Aziz from the Women’s Centre for Change, Penang, will include lawyers Ravi Nekoo, K.Shanmuga, Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdullah, former Syariah Judge Tuan Dr Haji Mohd Naim Haji Mokhtar, and Institut Kefahaman Islam Malaysia (Ikim) Syariah Law Centre director Dr Wan Azhar Wan Ahmad, as well as five affected families.