Thursday 3 May 2007

Hindu Rubber Tapper Unites with his Children, but Being Denied for Wife: A Very Cruel Decision in the Name of Islam

Rubber tapper P Marimuthu, who is seeking the release of his Muslim wife and children from the Islamic religious authorities, won custody of his seven children today. However his Muslim wife Raimah Bibi Noordin would still be in the custody of the religious department. She will be granted access to her children but would not be allowed to live with her Hindu husband. Read here for more

It is still a BAD and CRUEL DECISION by the Islamic religious authorities.

In the first place, this break up of a family is against Islam and against the fundamental rights of a Malaysian citizen enshrined in the Federal Constitution. It is against the universal rights of children protected by the UNITED NATIONS, of which Malaysia is a member.

It is of utmost urgency that the SUPREMACY of the Federal Constitution, and the secular laws of our beloved nation, are not only upheld, but be stringently enforced. Every Malaysian must see to it.

As citizens of this country, we should not allow any agency or institution, religious or otherwise, to tear apart the Federal Constitution to suit their religious or political whims and fancies. The Federal Constitution makes us Malaysians, who and what we are.

Presently, our judges in the secular courts have not shown to discharge satisfactorily their sacred responsibilities, to protect the citizens of this country as provided in the Federal Constitution, especiallly when dealing with issues of Islam, non Muslims and the Syariah Court. Recent cases tend to indicate our judges are shedding their responsibilities to other religious bodies. And that is most unfortunate for many Muslims and non Muslim citizens of this country.

The Syariah Court or any religious court, should not be allowed to take precedence, in form or substance, over the Federal Constitution. And our judges, especially our Muslim judges in the secular courts, who form the majority in the judiciary, must see to it.
-Malaysian Unplug

Related Article

READ HERE in International Herald Tribune

"...Malaysia's Islamic authorities gave a Hindu man married to a Muslim woman custody of their children Thursday, in a landmark decision for minority rights, after the couple were forcibly separated because they follow different religions.

The decision was announced at an emotional hearing in the High Court attended by the ethnic Indian couple, Marimuthu Periasamy and Raimah Bibi Noordin, both rubber tappers who had been happily married for 21 years.

The case is the latest in a series of conflicts involving the religious rights of minority groups that is straining ties in multiethnic Malaysia, where Islam is the dominant religion. Buddhists, Christians and Hindus are the minority faiths.

The crisis began unexpectedly when Islamic authorities took away Raimah Bibi and six of her seven children on April 2 on the grounds that her marriage with Marimuthu was illegal.

It was not clear why the authorities acted now when the couple had been together for 21 years.

At the hearing Tuesday, Raimah Bibi, 39, broke down and sobbed openly when the judge asked her if she will give up custody of their seven children, who are aged between four and 14.

"Yes, I agree to surrender my children to Marimuthu," she said, wiping her tears with the ends of her headscarf.

Marimuthu had filed an application demanding that the Islamic Affairs Department bring his wife and children to court.

The department has indicated the couple cannot live together because Marimuthu did not convert to Islam as required by law for their marriage to be legal.

Later, government lawyer Zauyah Be Loth Khan said the Islamic Affairs Department had no objection to the children being raised as Hindus by the father.

"It is up to the parents," she said.

The decision was a landmark step in minority rights because it allowed a Hindu man to take custody of his children who legally might be considered Muslims because their mother is one.

"It would set a precedent for other cases," said the 43-year-old Marimuthu's lawyer, Karpal Singh.

Singh indicated that Raimah Bibi gave up the children as a compromise to end the family's predicament.

"What is very sad is that a happy united family has been divided and has faced such a crisis," said Lim Kit Siang, opposition leader.

"For this to happen to a couple that has lived together for 21 years as a result of a religious conflict is not good for our international image," he said.

After Raimah Bibi and the six children were removed on April 2, Islamic authorities took them to a Muslim village for rehabilitation and religious counseling.

Marimuthu has claimed that his wife was a practicing Hindu despite having a Muslim name and that he feared she would be brainwashed at the rehabilitation village.

She and Marimuthu did not speak with reporters Thursday.

However, in a statement to the court, Raimah Bibi said she was born a Muslim and wants to "continue professing the Islamic faith."

Singh said Raimah Bibi "will have absolute access" to her children.

"We are resorting to King Solomon's justice," he said referring to the biblical story of a baby being ordered to be cut equally and given to two women who both claimed to be his mother.

H.J. Angus: Read here on Malaysia Watch, 'Solomon’s Justice or the Destruction of a Family? '

"...So the courts have settled this case whereby a mother has decided that she was mistaken to have married a Hindu man for 21 years and now has to surrender her seven children to her husband as Malaysian laws do not allow her to stay in the marriage.

The solution has been described as “Solomon’s justice” referring to the king in the Bible who was asked to decide which woman was the mother of a baby in dispute.

Since both women claimed the baby, Solomon decreed that the baby be cut in half and each woman given part of the baby. One woman agreed to this solution but the real mother begged Solomon not to do so and pleaded that the baby should be given to the other woman as she wanted to save her child.

Solomon then knew who the real mother was.

In this Malaysian incident, it seems that only the woman Raimah has some of the wisdom of Solomon.

If we look at this family situation outside of all religious and legal context, it seems the state is destroying a family of 21 years. No doubt the mother is being given visiting rights but a family has been placed in jeopardy and we know that 21 years of marriage is something that many “proper” marriages seldom attain with the high rate of divorce in Malaysia.

With six young children and no mother in attendance, it would be extremely difficult for the man to raise his family properly. Instead of punishing them we should salute this poor rubber tapper family that has somehow managed to survive all the tribulations of a poor background.

I daresay that all is not well in the state of Malaysia.

Where is our Solomon?

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