May 14, 2008

Aid Stolen in Burma

It's a growing problem: The Burmese military continues to steal international aid packages sent to aid victims of cyclone Nargis. An estimated 1.5 million Burmese face -- (UPDATE: 2.5 million) -- disease and starvation and little aid is reaching them.

And the death toll continues to rise in China.

A Buddhist man woman who converted to Islam in Malaysia can go back to being Buddhist, the courts say. Previously it was extremely difficult bordering on illegal to convert from Islam to another religion.

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Marcus's picture

A new update:

The Malaysian government is now challenging the court's decision:

Pity. We often hear that Malaysia represents the more tolerant face of Islam, but just this week we've had protests calling for this woman to recieve the death penalty for leaving the religion and now even the Malaysian government is trying to stop her from leaving.

And she was born a Buddhist. Just imagine how impossible and dangerous it would be for someone who was born Muslim to leave the Muslim faith - even in 'moderate' Malaysia!

Marcus's picture


Muslims in Malaysia are now protesting the court's decision. Their leader is quoted as saying 'We outrightly disagree with the court decision as it is against Islamic laws. In Islam, a person who insists on leaving the religion must be punished with death'.

Details here:

Marcus's picture


And before she could return to Buddhism she had to "undergo counseling to ensure she truly understood Islam".

Although this is a step in the right direction, it remains very very unlikely that Muslims will be allowed to freely convert out of their religion in Malaysia (or any where else for that matter) any time soon.


Philip Ryan's picture

Thanks, Erick. I mis-typed!

Erick's picture

Some important points of clarification on your last story: The Malaysian who returned to practicing Buddhism was a female, not a male. And she was allowed to return to her prior faith because it was determined she hadn't really ever converted properly as she hadn't been properly instructed in her new faith when she 'became' a Muslim. I don't believe in the laws eyes she converted from Islam to Buddhism, but rather she was perceived to have never truly converted to Islam in the first place. Those are important details for understanding the legal relationship between Islam and other minority, non-Islamic faiths in contemporary Malaysia with regards to the question of conversion.