A constitutional showdown over religion is taking shape in Malaysia, where the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Council has asked the courts to decide whether Islamic laws can be held up to the scrutiny of the country’s federal constitution.
At the center of the case is a Christian lawyer, Victoria Jayaseele Martin, who holds a certificate in Sharia (Islamic law) and sued to be able to practice law in Malaysia’s Sharia courts in its federal territories – Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan. She won her case, which is now under appeal.
On May 14, the Islamic Religious Council announced it would, as part of its legal case, ask the Federal Court to decide a new question: Do the freedoms guaranteed by Malaysia’s constitution apply to pronouncements of the country’s Islamic courts? The court has set an Aug. 13 date to hear arguments.