Sunday, February 14, 2016

Let Deepa’s children choose their religion at 18, says minister

The children of S. Deepa should be allowed to choose their religion "when they are of age to decide", Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Nancy Shukri was quoted as saying by The Star Online today. She said the welfare of the children was more important, and they needed their mother, more so when they were young. Last Wednesday, the Federal Court awarded custody of Deepa's son to former husband Izwan Abdullah, a Muslim convert, while she got custody of her daughter Sharmila. Izwan unilaterally converted the children to Islam and had kidnapped their son, Mithran, after the Seremban High Court gave custody of both children to Deepa in April 2014. Nancy told The Star Online today that when the case first came into the spotlight, she advised the authorities to think of the welfare of the children above all else. She added that it was better for a third party to hear such disputes, when asked what she thought about the proposal by the Muslim Lawyers' Association for a tribunal to resolve custody matters such as Deepa's. "I work with the ministry in charge of Islamic affairs. "I've discussed the matter with the attorney-general. He is already doing something about it. It's on conversion and custody but it's not just civil law and the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act. It's also on shariah law for the federal territories. "It's just a matter of getting the laws to be tabled in Parliament now." She also urged groups and activists involved to keep speaking up so that their voices were heard by the authorities. "Let the authorities hear you. I have been working with the authorities on the legal matters as well. A child needs a mother. Think of the welfare of the child," she said. – February 15, 2016.]]>

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