Single Hindu Mum Seeks To Nullify Unilateral Islamic Conversion Of Her 3 Kids
A Hindu mother is seeking a declaration that her Muslim convert ex-husband was legally unfit to unilaterally convert their kids to Islam.
She recently won a legal challenge to overturn the detention of her three minor children from Perlis Social Welfare Department (JKM).
Loh Siew Hong, a Penang-born Hindu Chinese, was finally reunited with her two 14-year-old twin girls and a 10-year-old boy after three years of fighting for their custody since her former husband abducted them and placed them under the care of Islamic non-governmental organisation Hidayah Centre Foundation operator Nazirah Nanthakumari Abdullah, who had reportedly refused the mother from seeing her children.
The three children, who are Hindus, were unilaterally converted to Islam by their father.
The 34-year-old woman is now knocking on the doors of the Kuala Lumpur High Court to seek several declarations with regards to ensuring religious freedom for all three of her minor children.
Along with seeking a declaration that her former husband Muhammad Nagahswaran Muniandy was legally unfit to convert them to Islam, Loh is also seeking a declaration that a Perlis state enactment that allows a single parent to convert a minor child to Islam without the permission of the other parent is unconstitutional.
Nagahswaran is currently serving jail time on drug-related charges.
She also wants a declaration that her three children are of the Hindu faith, and not Muslim, as they were legally incapable to embrace Islam without her consent, Free Malaysia Today reported yesterday, 25 March.
Loh also wants an order of certiorari to reverse the registration of conversion dated 7 July 2020 issued by the registrar and any official registration of her children's conversion be struck from the records.
Loh has named four respondents in her judicial review leave application filed at the Kuala Lumpur High Court registry on Friday
The judicial review application was filed by Messrs Srimurugan & Co.
In it, Loh has named:
- the Perlis Registrar of Muallafs (new converts to Islam),
- the Religious and Malay Customs Council of Perlis (MAIPS),
- Perak mufti Datuk Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin, and
- the Perak state government
Malaysiakini reported Loh's counsel Shamsher Singh Thind as explaining that the judicial review has been necessitated due to MAIPS filing to intervene in the divorce proceedings between Loh and Nagahswaran.
"Madam Loh was forced to file this application as MAIPS has applied to intervene in the concluded family proceeding to amend the custody order (granted to Loh by the civil court in relation to the three children). She was forced to file this application because MAIPS — in filing the (intervener) application — is acting upon the supposition that the children are Muslims," Malaysiakini quoted Shamsher as saying.
In an application filed earlier this month, MAIPs has sought to be made a party in the civil court divorce proceedings so that they can apply for a variation on the terms of the sole custody order granted to Loh in order to take care of her children's welfare and ensure that their Muslim faith is "safeguarded".
Meanwhile, MAIPS has obtained a High Court order that prevents the reporting of the names and pictures of Loh's three children
On 17 March, the Kuala Lumpur High Court issued the order for all mainstream media organisations and social media platforms following a verbal request by MAIPS' lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla.
The gag order includes the Muslim names the children were given following their conversion.
The court also set the hearing date for MAIPs' application to intervene in the divorce petition on 29 April.
While Loh seeks to nullify her children's unilateral conversion, it's something Perlis mufti Datuk Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin is against
In a statement after the ruling in February, he said that he is looking for "other legal means" to maintain the unilateral conversion of Loh's children, who Asri claimed, refused to go back to their mother.
"We are not surprised by the decision on the custody rights. What we are defending is the Islamisation of the children, if they want to continue to embrace Islam. We are looking at other measures," he said.
Along with Asri, Deputy Religious Affairs Minister Ahmad Marzuk Shaary has insisted that the unilateral conversion is legal and valid despite a landmark Federal Court decision in 2018 that declared that the consent of both parents is needed before a certificate of conversion can be issued.