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Siti Fatimah apostasy case postponed

PENANG, 4 Dec 2008: The appeal sought by the Penang Islamic Religious Council against the Syariah High Court decision allowing Siti Fatimah Tan Abdullah to renounce Islam has been set for hearing on 7 and 8 Jan next year.

The Penang Syariah Court of Appeal fixed the new date today to allow Siti Fatimah, 39, or Tan Ean Huang (name before conversion to Islam) to obtain new appeal records filed by the religious council.

Lawyer Ahmad Munawir Abdul Aziz, who represented the council, told the court earlier that they had filed a new appeal record, namely a counselling document that was not furnished during the trial.

An additional appeal record would be filed today, he said, and applied for time for Siti Fatimah to scrutinise the records since she had not obtained them.

Penang Syariah Chief Judge Datuk Yusop Che Teh who sat with Syariah Chief Justice/Malaysian Syariah Judiciary Director Datuk Ibrahim Lembut and Federal Territories Syariah Chief Justice Datuk Muhammad Asri Abdullah, allowed Munawir’s application.

He also allowed both parties to submit written arguments on the appeal records.

Siti Fatimah who wore a pink blouse and black skirt, was represented by counsel Ahmad Jailani Abdul Ghani.

In her application to renounce Islam filed on 10 July 2006, she said she was never convinced of Islamic teachings and embraced the religion on 25 July 1998 only to meet the requirement to marry an Iranian by the name Ferdoun Ashanian. The man has since walked out on her and disappeared.

After several postponements, Perlis Syariah Chief Judge Othman Ibrahim who heard the case when he was Penang Syariah High Court Judge ruled on 8 May this year that Siti Fatimah was no longer a Muslim and allowed her application on the ground that she did not practise Islamic teachings since her conversion.

Siti Fatimah’s case is the first in Malaysia involving a living plaintiff and under syariah court’s jurisdiction. — Bernama


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