Perlis mufti: Father wants children’s conversion to be defended

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Single mother Loh Siew Hong’s ex-husband wants his children’s conversion to Islam to be defended, says Perlis mufti Datuk Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin.

He said that the father of the three children – twin daughters, age 14, and son, 10 – had contacted the Perlis religious authorities from a prison in Kelantan as he was serving a drug-related sentence until November.

“We have no objections if the children do not want to be Muslims. However, the father called from prison asking us to defend his children’s conversion,” Asri said in a religious sermon streamed live on Facebook on Thursday (Feb 17) night.

Miera Zulyana

“Perlis has never forced people to convert to Islam. In fact, in 2015, we came up with a fatwa that is recognised to be the most harmonious in the country,” he said referring to an edict issued by the Perlis Fatwa Committee in July 2015, which stated that a child’s welfare takes priority over religion in custody battles involving Muslim convert and non-Muslim parents.

He also claimed that the children informed him that they had wanted to be Muslims before their father converted, adding that the twins were adept at reciting Quranic verses and wore tudung.

Speaking about the controversy over him meeting Loh’s children over satay while the mother was initially not allowed to see them, Asri said he had met the children well before he posted the video of the meeting on his Instagram account.

“The mother decided to have her kids placed under the Welfare Department. We are not against the mother having custody of her children.

“The mother has the court papers. But her children didn’t want to follow their mother when they (first) met in Kangar,” he said.

It was reported that Loh’s ex-husband, Nagashwaran Muniandy, had converted to Islam and had also unilaterally converted the children. He was arrested for a drug-related offence and is now in jail in Kelantan.

Loh divorced her husband on March 19, 2019.

Earlier, Loh, with the help of Bagan Dalam assemblyman M Satees and Tamilar Kural Malaysia president David Marshel, lodged a police report, claiming her children were “illegally” taken away without her knowledge while she was recovering from a fractured leg.

She filed a habeas corpus application at the Kuala Lumpur High Court on Feb 13, asking it to compel the return of her three children.

The children are now under the care of the Perlis Welfare Department until the application is heard on Feb 21. – The Star

Earlier report:

Feb 17, Mufti admits kids brought to Perlis to be unilaterally converted without mother’s knowledge