Malaysia: Muslim 'prophet' challenges Islamic law

A Malaysian Muslim who claims to be God's prophet has cleared the first legal hurdle to challenge the powers of Islamic authorities to prosecute people deemed to be heretics, his lawyer said Wednesday. Abdul Kahar Ahmad received approval Wednesday from the Federal Court, Malaysia's highest court, to file a petition that would challenge Islamic Shariah criminal laws in central Selangor state, said his lawyer, Malik Imtiaz Sarwar. Abdul Kahar, a 56-year-old former zoo worker, was charged in an Islamic court in August 2005 with five offenses, including spreading false teachings and violating religious precepts. He faces prison terms, fines and detention at a religious rehabilitation center if convicted in a trial, expected later this year. Local media have reported that Abdul Kahar claimed that in 1986 he was appointed a prophet by God under the same circumstances as Prophet Muhammad had been chosen. He reportedly has a small group of followers totaling just over 20 people.