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Last Updated: Friday, 6 July 2007, 17:57 GMT 18:57 UK
Malaysia 'convert' claims cruelty
By Jonathan Kent
BBC News, Kuala Lumpur

Revathi Massosai
Revathi Massosai alleges harsh treatment in detention
A Malaysian woman held for months in an Islamic rehabilitation centre says she was subjected to mental torture for insisting her religion is Hinduism.

Revathi Massosai, the name by which she wants to be known, says she was forced to eat beef despite being a Hindu.

Miss Massosai was seized by the Islamic authorities in January when she went to court to ask that she be registered as a Hindu rather than a Muslim.

The case is one of a number that have raised religious tensions in Malaysia.

Miss Massosai was born to Muslim converts and given a Muslim name, but she was raised as a Hindu by her grandmother and has always practised that faith.

However, under Malaysia's Islamic law, having Muslim parents makes one a Muslim and, as such, one is not allowed to change one's faith or marry a non-Muslim.

But Miss Massosai married a Hindu man in 2004 and the couple have a young daughter.

Headscarf

When in January she asked a court to officially designate her a Hindu she was detained and taken to an Islamic rehabilitation centre.

Muslims take part in Friday prayer at the National Mosque in Kuala Lumpur
Only the Islamic courts can allow a Muslim legally to change faith

Her detention was twice extended to six months, during which time she says religious officials tried to make her pray as a Muslim and wear a headscarf.

However, the claim that will particularly shock Hindus is that the camp authorities tried to force her to eat beef.

A lawyer representing the Malacca state Islamic department responsible for Miss Revathi's arrest, rejected her allegations and said officials believe that she can still be persuaded to embrace Islam.

She is adamant that she will remain a Hindu. In the meantime, Miss Revathi and her daughter have been placed in the custody of her Muslim parents.


SEE ALSO
Malaysia seeks to avoid faith row
07 Dec 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Pressure on multi-faith Malaysia
16 May 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Islam-West divide 'grows deeper'
10 Feb 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Muslim burial for Malaysian hero
28 Dec 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Row over Malaysian family laws
22 Dec 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Malaysia: Islam and multi-culturalism
07 Feb 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: Malaysia
18 Oct 06 |  Country profiles

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