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Global Jurist

Ed. by Mattei, Ugo / Monti, Alberto

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Islamic State and the Common Law in Malaysia: A Case Study of Lina Joy

Joshua Neoh1

1Australian National University,

Citation Information: Global Jurist. Volume 8, Issue 2, ISSN (Online) 1934-2640, DOI: 10.2202/1934-2640.1269, June 2008

Publication History

Published Online:
2008-06-09

``Every person has the right to profess and practise his religion." Article 11 of the Malaysian Constitution could hardly be more explicit. However, Lina Joy was told by the Federal Court that she could not exercise her constitutional right without prior approval by the syariah court. The case of Lina Joy has important consequences for Malaysia's political and constitutional development especially if viewed within the context of Malaysia's increasing Islamization. In this case, syariah law moved beyond the confines of the syariah court to influence the legal outcome of a common law adjudication in the civil court. An analysis of the majority and minority judgments in Lina Joy reveals two conceptions and usages of the common law in the face of Islamization: it can either be a Trojan horse to import syariah law principles into the legal system, or a tool of resistance against the Islamization of the Malaysian legal system.

Keywords: Islamic state; common law; syariah law; freedom of religion; Lina Joy; Malaysia

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