Malaysia Govt in Bid to Avert Religious Tension

December 7, 2006

Source: The Peninsula

Wire Service: Reuters

Kuala Lumpur • Malaysia sought to defuse religious tensions yesterday, asking the state’s top lawyer to investigate the case of a hospital that had refused to release a Muslim convert’s body to his Christian widow.

The widow, 69-year-old Lourdes Mary Maria Soosay, wants a court to order hospital authorities to hand over the body of her 71-year-old husband, van driver Rayappan Anthony, whose religious beliefs at the time of his death last week are in question.

Islamic religious authorities want the man buried according to Muslim rites, but his family says he renounced Islam and resumed practising Christianity in 1999.

Yesterday, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the government would ask Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail to examine the issue and return the body to the family if it proved not to be Muslim.“The issue was discussed in cabinet,” Abdullah told reporters in reply to a question soon after a weekly cabinet meeting.