Cabinet must send out clear signal tomorrow that it stands by its “common religion” decision on baby Prasana Diksa case and that it is not a meaningless decision to be defied with impunity

Media Statement (2) by DAP Parliamentary Leader and MP for Ipoh Timor Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday, April 28, 2009:

At its first meeting last Wednesday, the Najib Cabinet commendably took a policy decision as a result of the Indira Ghandi case, where her three children Tevi Darsiny 12, Karan Dinish 11 and year-old Prasana Diksa were converted by her husband K. Pathmanathan, now known as Mohd Ridzuan Abdullah without her consent.

The Cabinet decided that the civil marriage has to be settled by the civil court and the religion of their children be the common religion at the time their parents were married at civil law.

The Cabinet also decided that the year-old baby daughter, Prasana Diksa, forcibly taken away by the father for more than a month although she was still being breastfed by Indira, should be returned to the mother.

Nazri said that the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of Islamic Affairs, Datuk Jamil Khir Baharom, had been tasked to resolve the Indira Ghandi case amicably and to return Prasana Diksa to the mother.

Last Friday, the Ipoh High Court also granted to Indira Ghandi an interim custody order for her three children, ordering Pathmanathan/Ridzuan to return Prasana to his wife and the police to provide assistance to Indira with regards to this.

However, a week after the Cabinet decision and 96 hours after the Ipoh High Court orders, Indira Ghandi, who had caused the Cabinet to come out with a policy decision to end controversial conversion cases which create not only gross injustices in trampling on parental rights and destroying family integrity but also cause deep divisions in our multi-racial and multi-religious nation, is still pining for her year-old baby girl as Pathmanathan/Ridzuan and Prasana seem to have disappeared altogether.

The Cabinet tomorrow must send out a clear signal that it stands by its “common religion” decision on the baby Prasana Diksa case and that it is not a meaningless decision to be defied with impunity and to take all steps to return Prasana to her mother Indira Ghandi without delay as well as to put the policy decision into effect with the necessary legislative and administrative follow-up actions.

The “letter to the editor” of New Straits Times by an academician in Islamic theology and philosophy in a local university, entitled “No religious basis to convert baby” should be tabled at the Cabinet meeting tomorrow to fortify its decision last week and to take all necessary steps to return Prasana to Indira.

This letter, by Dr. Ibrahim Abu Bakar, Associate Professor of the Department of Theology and Philsophy, Faculty of Islamic Studies, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, expressed very strong views that Pathmanathan/Ridzuan should return Prasana to her Hindu mother, that he is a bad Muslim if he does not hand back Prasana, even proposing that the police should arrest him if he is reluctant to deliver the baby girl back to Indira after the Ipoh High Court interim custody order in favour of the mother.

Dr. Ibrahim wrote:

Islamic theology does not impose any religious duty on the father to take away the baby girl from her Hindu mother.

This baby should not be prohibited by her father from being breastfed by her mother. If he does, he is wrong and evil in Islamic theological view because Islam does not impose any religious duty on any baby regardless whether she was born to a Hindu or Muslim mother. Islam imposes Islamic religious duties upon mature men and women, not upon babies and children. Please let this baby girl be breastfed by her mother.

Some Muslims hold the view that when a husband or wife converts to Islam, he or she has the right in Islamic law to take the children with him or her and then convert the children to Islam. Islamic law does not say so.

The “Islamness” of the children is not taken into account in Islamic theology. Islamic theology will count on the “Islamness” of human beings who are mature.

The Islamic terms for mature, sensible and responsible human beings are “aqil” and “baligh”. Patmanathan has been supported by some ignorant Muslims on the pretext of protecting the purity of Islam and his three children. These Muslims are wrong.

There is no Islamic legal basis for Muslims to help someone take away a baby from her mother and then convert that baby to Islam. Islam does not count on the converted babies and Islam does not reward those who have converted the babies to Islam.

The babies have no Islamic religious duties and, therefore, they are neither rewarded nor punished for such actions.

Dr. Ibrahim ended his letter in language which cannot be stronger and more explicit:

I do not support non-Muslims who convert to Islam just because they want to run away from their responsibilities as husbands or wives or because they want to marry Muslim women or Muslim men.

Lim Kit Siang

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