Malaysian court due to rule on religious rights

Malaysia's highest court is expected to pass a landmark ruling Wednesday on whether a woman's constitutional right to choose her religion overrides an Islamic law that prohibits ethnic Malay Muslims from leaving Islam. The case of Lina Joy, who renounced Islam and embraced Christianity, has prompted Malaysian human rights activists to warn that religious tolerance is under threat. They urged the country's courts Tuesday to protect freedom of worship in the Muslim-majority nation. Suaram, one of Malaysia's leading rights groups, released its 2006 annual report in which it alleged there were increasing rights violations, particularly due to racial and religious factors. "It has not helped that our courts have been somewhat reticent, a little bit hesitant to take positions that uphold the federal constitution," said Zaitun Kasim, a Suaram committee member.