I’ve learnt a new word … apostasy.
I felt the need to look it up when it featured in the headlines of all the newspapers recently.
With headlines like ‘The Punishment for Apostasy is Death‘, I felt that I should know what it is, so that I could avoid inadvertantly apostasising in the future.
I was slightly cheered to read that they can’t actually enforce the penalty at the moment, due to Malaysia’s federal laws –
But in the small print we were assured that they are seeking to remove this restriction via a private member’s Bill in Parliament – and it has been suggested that atheists should also be ‘hunted down’.
In Malaysia you’re not allowed NOT to have a religion – you can be a Buddhist, a Taoist, a Catholic and so on, but you have to be something. Everyone must publicly declare which camp they’re in, and nobody’s allowed to be Switzerland. You can change religions and convert … unless you’re a Muslim, as being a Muslim is a bit like being a king or queen of Narnia.
There was a handy flowchart online, showing the futility of attempting to renounce your religion, complete with a picture of gallows and noose at the bottom as a stark reminder.
I wasn’t surprised to read that there were no records of any application to renounce Islam, and that no Malay Muslims had ever applied to change their religious status … why would you?
This week, I was pleased to see that the Sultan has waded into a discrimination row and told the owner of a launderette that he can’t display a ‘Muslim customers only’ sign.
I also like the idea of the Cabinet deciding that ‘such segregation will not wash’ – glad they’ve retained their sense of humour.
I am, however, rather bemused by the reason given for the discrimination
Reasons of cleanliness? I thought that the whole point of a launderette was that nothing is clean when it arrives, and everything is clean when it leaves. So why would Muslim washing be any different from anyone else’s washing? I’m obviously missing something here.