Malaysia's Islamic Authority Drops Claim over Man's Body, Ends Religious Row

December 8, 2006

Source: Mainichi News

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Malaysia's Islamic authorities have dropped their claim over the body of a man whose family maintained he died a Christian, ending a religious row that has strained fragile race relations.

The Selangor state's Islamic Religious Council said late Thursday that its investigations showed there was "overwhelming" evidence that van driver Rayappan Anthony, who died Nov. 29, was not a Muslim.

Rayappan, 71, got caught after his death in a tug of war between the religious council and his family with both claiming his body for burial. The council said he had converted to Islam in 1990, and should be buried as a Muslim. His family said he renounced Islam and returned to Roman Catholicism in 1999 without informing Islamic authorities.

Both sides filed petitions separately in the civil and Islamic courts. But a legal resolution became redundant when the council reversed its stand after consulting religious experts.

"With this, we withdrew the case from the court ... and will not make any other claim," council chairman Mohamed Adzib Mohamad Isa said.