Kuala Lumpur: A task force of non-governmental organisations in Malaysia has said that some 7,000 Hindus living in the country are wrongly classified as Muslims on their national identity cards, the media reported on Tuesday.
Malaysia Hindu Sangam president Mohan Shan told The Malaysian Insider that the problem was widespread throughout Peninsular Malaysia and involved mostly practising Hindus from the lower income group who are documented as Muslims.
The task force of eight Hindu NGOs said they are assisting 500 Hindus, while some 7,000 others throughout the country were affected by the "system failure" in which anybody wishing to change their official religious status from Islam must first receive permission from the Shariah Court.
He said the 7,000 cases were a mix of those registered as Muslims by a convert parent generations ago, while some found themselves erroneously registered by the ministry.
Restaurant manager S. Deepa, after a four-year battle, was only given custody of one of her two children by the Federal Court after her Muslim-convert ex-husband converted their children without her consent.
Similarly, the ex-husband of kindergarten teacher M. Indira Gandhi, had in 2009 converted the couple’s three children -- then aged 12 years, 11 years and 11 months -- to Islam, without their presence or Indira’s knowledge, just six days before he obtained a custody order for all three in the Shariah court.
Meanwhile, the Muslim Lawyer's Association of Malaysia (PPMM) said they would assist any registered Muslim who wish to change their official religious status.
Islam is the largest and state religion of Malaysia accounting for 61.3 percent of the total population. Hindus account for about 6.3 percent.