An ethnic Indian Malaysian was buried with Islamic rites yesterday after his Hindu widow lost a court battle over his religious identity, in a sensational case that has the potential to blow into a racial firestorm.
The High Court ruled in favor of the Islamic Affairs Department, allowing it to take possession of the body of ex-army commando M. Moorthy. The body has been lying in a legal limbo at a Kuala Lumpur hospital since Moorthy's death on Dec. 20 after seven years of paralysis.
The court rejected an appeal by Moorthy's widow, Kaliammal Sinnasamy, who had sought custody of the body, disputing an Islamic Sharia court's ruling last week that Moorthy, 36, was a Muslim convert and should be buried as a Muslim.
Soon after the ruling, Islamic Affairs officials took over the body, washed it according to Islamic rites and draped it in a white shroud for burial in a Muslim cemetery. A cleric recited prayers over his grave as more than 50 Muslims chanted verses from the Koran.
Kaliammal did not attend but a brother and nephew of Moorthy observed the rites.
The case threatens to blow into a rare interracial and religious dispute in this Muslim-majority nation, which prides itself on religious tolerance among a population that also includes Buddhists, Christians and Hindus.
Haris Mohamad Ibrahim, a lawyer representing Malaysia's Bar Council, blasted the verdict as a "human tragedy."
"So much for good interracial relations," he told reporters. "The judge has just told the widow and her family to go back and leave the body of their beloved to be buried by strangers."
Religious affairs of Muslims are governed by the Islamic Sharia Court and others -- who are guaranteed freedom of worship -- by other civilian courts. The jurisdictions of the two legal branches rarely overlap. Generally civilian judges are loath to question the Shariah court's authority.
In his ruling on the appeal by 30-year-old Kaliammal, High Court judge Raus Sharif said he has no jurisdiction to overrule the Sharia court decision.
A weeping Kaliammal did not speak to reporters after the verdict but her lawyer, A. Sivanesan, said she does not consider it a loss.
"She says ... anybody can take the body, but her husband's soul is still with us," Sivanesan said.
Moorthy took part in a nationally feted Malaysian expedition to Mount Everest in 1997. He was paralyzed during army training in 1998 and slipped into a coma last month, at which time his former colleagues told Kaliammal that he had embraced Islam in October last year.
The Islamic Affairs Department did not provide documentary proof of the alleged conversion, saying he did it verbally.
Kaliammal says Moorthy was not a Muslim as he continued to drink liquor, eat pork and participate in Hindu religious festivals -- all prohibited by Islam -- even after the purported conversion.
With YouTube videos “debunking” allegations of human rights abuses and diatribes on Western “conspiracies” against China, an unlikely set of foreigners is loudly defending Beijing against international critics. They are teachers and business owners from the UK, Colombia and Singapore, a collage of YouTubers garnering fame for their video takedowns of what they say are unfair accusations against Beijing. Videos alternate between praise of China’s rapid development and rebuttals of negative foreign reports about the country. Experts say they are being deployed as a weapon in the information war against China’s critics, with hundreds of videos reaching millions of viewers. “I am trying to
Hospitals are overwhelmed, ventilators are difficult to find and there is no longer enough space at the main cemetery for COVID-19 victims in Mauritius. Barely three weeks before it fully opens its doors to international travelers at the start of the peak tourist season, the island nation is struggling with an alarming explosion in COVID-19 infections and deaths. In just two months, cases have jumped more than fivefold to more than 12,600 as of Friday, by far the largest increase across Africa during this period, data compiled by Agence France-Presse showed. Since the pandemic started, Mauritius has recorded 1,005 cases of COVID-19 per
ELEVATED PARTNERSHIP: The agreement enables Japan to share its equipment and technology, as the countries deepen defense ties amid China worries Japan is to give defense equipment and technology to Vietnam under an agreement signed on Saturday, as the two countries step up their military cooperation amid worries about China’s growing military influence. Japanese Minister of Defense Nobuo Kishi said the deal elevates the countries’ defense partnership “to a new level,” and that Japan and Vietnam plan to deepen defense ties through multinational joint exercises and other means. Details about the transfer of specific equipment, including naval vessels, is to be worked out in subsequent talks, the ministry said. Kishi’s meeting with Vietnamese Minister of Defense Phan Van Giang in Hanoi
A city in southern China that is trying to contain a COVID-19 outbreak told the public on Sunday not to leave, suspended bus and train services, and closed cinemas, bars and other facilities. Anyone needing to leave Putian, a city of 2.9 million people in China’s Fujian Province, for an essential trip must have proof of a negative coronavirus test within the past 48 hours, the city government said. China declared the virus under control early last year, but has suffered outbreaks of the more contagious Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2. Authorities say that most cases have been traced to travelers arriving from