KUALA LUMPUR: The Cabinet has decided that children of parents where one of them opts to convert must be raised in the common religion at the time of marriage.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri said it was decided in the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday that a spouse who has converted into Islam would also have to fulfil his or her marriage responsibilities according to civil marriage laws.

“Religion should not be used as a tool to escape marriage responsibilities. Conversion is not a grounds for the automatic dissolution of a marriage,” he said at a press conference at Parliament building Thursday.

“The children should be brought up in the common religion. For the spouse who intends to convert into Islam, he or she would also have to come clean,” he said.

Nazri said religious conversion must come with the innocent party being protected from being victimised, as well as protection being affored to the new religion of the converted person.

“Civil marriages have to be resolved according to civil laws. The conversion takes effect on the day of conversion and is not restropective.

“The convert would have to fulfil his or her marriage responsibilities according to civil laws prior to the conversion,” he added.

Nazri also said the Cabinet has instructed the Attorney-General to look at all relevant laws which needed to be amended in line with what has been decided on civil marriage laws and others.

For Islamic enactment, he said the matters have to be brought up with the respective Sultans as they are the heads of religion in their respective states.

The religious conversion issue came to the Cabinet’s attention on April 15 involving a specific case.

Indra Ghandhi, 35, had sought the help of the Hindu Sangam branch in Ipoh after her husband K. Patmanathan, now Mohd Ridzuan Abdullah, converted their three children without their presence and without informing her.

He allegedly used the children’s birth certificates to get them converted. The youngest child is said to be in the father’s custody.

Source: The Star Online