On Monday, the highest court in Malaysia is scheduled to hear the appeal of four people who wish to have their conversions from Islam to Christianity legally recognised.
In a country where there is no legal way to leave Islam, the four people are asking the Federal Court to have their names and their faith changed on their national identity cards.
Three of the four were raised as Christians but converted to Islam in order to marry Muslims. Jenny Peter divorced her Muslim husband in 2006 and returned to Christianity. Salina Jau was divorced by her Muslim husband in 1992, and then she returned to Christianity. Tiong Choo Ting began to practice Christianity after his Muslim wife died in 2007.
All three signed “statutory declarations” that they intended to return to Christianity. They were required to undergo “counselling” regarding their faith. No coercion is exerted in the counselling, which takes place at the state department of religion in two to five sessions running from 30 minutes to an hour. According to court records, “All appelates attended counselling sessions and remained firm in their stand to renounce Islam.”