©New Straits Times (Used by permission)
PUTRAJAYA: Bar Council executive committee member Zulkifli Noordin caused a stir when he claimed that the legal body had not decided to take a partisan stand on the Lina Joy case.
Zulkifli, who was allowed by the Federal Court yesterday to hold a watching brief for the Malaysian Youth Islamic Movement (ABIM), said he was surprised that lawyer Malik Imtiaz Sarwar had taken a position that Muslims be allowed to decide on their religious status.
He noted that the Bar Council had not given Malik the mandate to take such a position, adding that 40 per cent of the 14,000 lawyers were Malay–Muslims.
"He is not a member of the council. I will raise this matter at the next meeting," he said.
Malik then stood up and protested that it was improper for Zulkifli to insinuate that he did not have the authority to appear for the council.
Chief Justice Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim said that what Zulkifli meant was that Malik did not have the mandate to take a stand.
Malik said he was offended because he too was a Muslim.
To this, Zulkifli said he was more than surprised that Malik was taking a stand that Muslims could apostasise.
In his submission, Zulkifli said the issue at hand was whether Islam allowed an individual to become an apostate.
The NRD did not infringe the rights of Joy when it asked her to produce a certificate from the Syariah Court that she had become an apostate, he said.
Pawancheek Marican, who appeared for the Malaysian Muslim Lawyers Association, said the Constitution placed Islam on a higher plane than other religions.
He said non–Muslims were not allowed to preach their religions to Muslims and this was a protection for Islam.
Pawancheek said the identity card was prima facie evidence whether one was a Muslim or not.