"KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, May 27 -- Lina Joy has been disowned by her family, shunned by friends and forced into hiding because she renounced Islam and embraced Christianity in Muslim-majority Malaysia.
Now, after a seven-year legal struggle, Malaysia's highest court will decide on Wednesday whether her constitutional right to choose her religion overrides an Islamic law that prohibits Malay Muslims from leaving Islam.
Either way, the verdict will have profound implications in a country where Islam is increasingly conflicting with minority religions, challenging Malaysia's reputation as a moderate Muslim and multicultural nation that guarantees freedom of worship.
Joy's case began in 1998 when, after converting, she applied for a name change on her government identity card. The National Registration Department obliged but refused to drop Muslim from the religion category."
This is hard to fathom on more than one level.
First of all, this would not even be an issue under our own U. S. Constitution with its clear statement that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."
Second, even with the idea of a national ID card, the concept of identifying people by religion is foreign. It is not so small a step from that to the wearing of a yellow circle or star on one's outer clothing.Malaysia has a choice here: Respect the rights enumerated in their constitution or allow religion to control civil authority. May they have the courage to uphold their constitution.