As ever, the BBC news website provides me with a steady stream of reports that inspire my anger and frustration. My outrage du jour comes from this article about a Malaysian woman who was raised as a Muslim named Azlina Jailani, but who for the last six years has tried to change her legal name to Lina Joy and her registered status from Muslim to Christian. Malaysia permits freedom of worship, but Malaysian citizens have to designate their religion, and ethnic Malays are predominantly Muslim.
After the Sharia court predictably rejected her request, Lina Joy appealed to Malaysia's High Court for relief. Unfortunately, the High Court "endorsed legal precedents giving Islamic Sharia courts jurisdiction over cases involving Muslims who want to convert."
The article quotes a Muslim protestor who stood outside the court as saying "You can't at whim and fancy convert from one religion to another."
Oh really? Why not? But in any case, the fact that Lina Joy has been attending church since 1990 and was baptized in 1998 clearly demonstrates that her conversion to Christianity has been neither fanciful nor whimsical.
Many of my fellow atheist readers might dismiss Lina Joy's conversion from Islam to Christianity as simply trading one delusion for another, but what is important about this case is the principle that a person should be free to worship or not worship as he or she pleases. That is something very worthwhile that we should all have an interest in promoting.
Here is the website for the Malaysian Embassy in the United States. Send them your e-mails filled with righteous indignation at firstname.lastname@example.org.