Lina Joy is Christian. However, she was born a Muslim, Azlina Jailani. And in Malaysia, she is facing a problem. She cannot change her religion (or at least in name). Because of that, she cannot get married.
She is fighting the courts to have her religion stated on her national identity card changed from Muslim. The National Registration Department refuses to do so because it is a "religious matter for the syariah courts". The government has washed their hands of this matter and said that it is a syariah matter. One of the judges ruled that: “As a Malay, the plaintiff exists under the tenets of Islam until her death.” In the same article to quote: "in the Quran, the act of apostasy -- or abandoning the Muslim faith -- is punishable by death. "
The reason why the Malaysian government doesn't do this is political. If they allow one person to change religion, the political fallout from the Islamic religious leaders would be fatal. There could be demonstrations or riots. The Islamic parties would use this as an opportunity to topple the current government because it isn't protecting the "interests of Islam".
The fallout of the Pope's remark caused a signed reply on the matter from many national Islamic religious leaders that contained this remark: "There is no compulsion in religion... was a reminder to Muslims themselves, once they had attained power, that they could not force another's heart to believe."
Can Lina Joy use this in her defense?
Can she use this very document in court that was signed by Mufti's and the top religious leaders from Saudi Arabia to the UK and even the Islamic University of Malaya?
Is there freedom of religion in Malaysia?
Or will it be a case of hypocrisy, saying one thing but the opposite being done?
Links to Lina Joy:
Muslim Scholar's response to Pope's remarks here.
Wikipedia article on apostasy in Islam.