THE HIGHEST court in Malaysia has rejected a Muslim-born woman's appeal to be recognised as a Christian after a six-year legal battle.
Lina Joy, 42, had fought the decisions of Malaysia's lower courts in an effort to have the word "Islam" removed from her identity card, arguing that the constitution guaranteed her religious freedom. But a panel of three judges ruled that the court had no power to intervene in cases of apostasy. Such cases fall under the jurisdiction of Malaysia's Sharia courts, which work in tandem with the country's civil courts. However, it has never been made clear which form of court has precedence.
The Malaysian constitution guarantees freedom of worship, but ethnic Malays must be Muslim by law. "She cannot simply, at her own whim, enter or leave her religion," said Judge Ahmad Fairuz. "She must follow rules."