Malaysia Tackles Child Conversion

April 23, 2009

Author: Staff Writer

Source: BBC News

Malaysia has banned the religious conversion of children without both parents' consent, local media reports.

The announcement by new Prime Minister Najib Razak is being seen as a major step in easing ethnic tensions in the predominately Muslim country.

It follows a string of legal rows in which converts to Islam changed their children's religion despite protests by their estranged non-Muslim spouses.

Malaysia has a two-tier secular and Sharia court system for family matters.

Non-Muslims - who make up about 40% of Malaysia's population - have complained of discrimination, saying the Islamic Sharia courts tend to assert their greater power over minorities when disputes arise.

Meanwhile, the secular courts that preside over family disputes for non-Muslims say they have no jurisdiction over such cases.