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Only Muslim lawyers in Malaysian Sharia courts


In a landmark decision, a Malaysian court today ruled that only Muslims can practise as lawyers in Sharia courts in the multi-ethnic Muslim-majority country.

The apex court decided on two questions of law in an appeal by the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Council (MAIWP) and Attorney-General’s Chamber against the Court of Appeal’s decision to allow non-Muslim lawyers to practise Islamic Sharia law.

Court of Appeal held that the rules for Sharia lawyers mandating that only Muslims can be admitted as Sharia lawyers did not contravene the Federal Constitution governing equality, liberty and right to form associations.

On March 17, 2011, Victoria Jayaseele Martin, who has a Masters degree in Comparative Law from the International Islamic University, lost her bid in the High Court to challenge the assertion that a Sharia lawyer in Kuala Lumpur must be a Muslim.

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