Minister: No Apostates, Just Registration Errors

Minister in the prime minister's department Jamil Khir Baharom today explained that the more than 100 applicants who managed to renounce Islam were actually non-Muslims themselves.

The approved cases involved non-Muslims who were mistakenly registered as Muslims by the National Registration Department because of their names, Jamil Khir said.

Jamil Khir explained that the non-Muslims had to apply at the Syariah Court to change their religious status since they are not legally Muslim.

"The names are similar to Muslim-Malay, such as Muhammad, But when they go to register, the registration department would immediately insert Islam (as the religion), they have Muslim name but they are not (Muslim).

"So, (the applications) were allowed by the court to correct their religion (status). That is a few examples of confusions. So there is no issue of the court approving an (apostasy application)," he said.

The "approval" by the court, he explained, was not approval to renounce Islam since that was not really the case.

"You go to register in court under (an) apostasy (case), but the issue of apostasy never came up because they are not (legally Muslim). They just register their name as such," said Jamil, adding that the actual number of apostates is zero.

The cases usually involve applicants from Sabah and Sarawak, he told reporters after a function in Kuala Lumpur today.

Jamil was asked to explain his ministerial reply in Parliament on June 14, in which he tendered that 168 out of 863 applications were approved from 2000 to 2010.

The actual number of approved cases was 135 out of 686 applications. 

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