Malaysia Sikhs Lose Fight Against Man's Conversion

July 6, 2009

Author: Julia Zappei


Wire Service: AP

A Sikh family lost a court battle Monday in Muslim-majority Malaysia for the right to cremate one of their relatives after officials said the man had converted to Islam years before his death.

The case threatens to revive complaints among non-Muslims that their religious rights are being sidelined-a grievance that has sparked interfaith tensions and severely eroded minority support for the government.

The family of Mohan Singh has been fighting Islamic authorities for custody of his body after Mohan, 41, died of a heart attack on May 25.

Officials from the Islamic government department of central Selangor state insisted Mohan converted to Islam in 1992, but the family said he practiced the Sikh religion until his death.

Malaysia's secular High Court ruled Monday that it had no jurisdiction in the case, saying that the matter of Mohan's conversion to Islam had already been decided by the Islamic Shariah court, said the family's lawyer, Rajesh Kumar.