Non-Muslims should be allowed to attend Syariah Court trials: Perak Mufti

PETALING JAYA: The scope of the Syariah Court should be extended by allowing non-Muslims to attend its trials, Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria (pix) said.

Commenting on the recent Federal Court's ruling on unilateral conversion, the mufti said the jurisdiction of the Syariah Court should be on par with its Civil counterpart.

He also suggested for the Perak government to make amendments to include the Syariah Court under the state's law to allow for the position of both Syariah and Civil Courts to be on the same level.

"The provisions of the Syariah Court needs to be enlarged so that it allows for non-Muslims to attend the trials, without restriction to only Muslims.

"The Syariah Court should also not be considered as an entity outside of the judicial institution, which places it at a lower position," Harussani said in a statement.

In a landmark decision on Monday, the Federal Court ruled that the unilateral conversion of M. Indira Ghandi's three children to Islam by her Muslim convert ex-husband is null and void.

Federal Court judge Tan Sri Zainun Ali said the consent of both parents was required for the conversion of a minor.

Expressing his disappointment towards the decision, Harussani said the Apex Court ruling was in violation to the position of Islam.

He said it was also sad as the majority of the judges involved in the trial were Muslims.

"The decision, which is disadvantageous to Islam and Muslims, can also be deemed as not respecting the Federal Constitution.

"This is because the Federal Constitution has clearly stated that Islam is the religion of the federation," he added.

Harussani said he was baffled as the Federal Court had defined the term 'parent' as plural in the case.

"In other cases such as R. Subashini against T. Saravanan in 2007, the same court had ruled that only a parent (consent) was required to decide the religion of their children," he added.