A Muslim-born woman who was forced to spend six months in an Islamic rehabilitation center because she wants to live as a Hindu said Friday after her release that she will never return to her original faith.
Revathi Masoosai, 29, said officials at the center tried to make her pray as a Muslim, wear a head scarf and eat beef, a practice sacrilege to Hindus.
"Because of their behavior, I loathe Islam even more now," she told reporters. "They say it's a school, but it's actually a prison."
Her case is one of a growing number of conflicts in Malaysia between religious freedom and state policies that favor Islam, the official faith of this southeast Asian nation. The battles have strained ethnic relations in the multicultural nation.
Malaysia is considered one of the world's most relaxed Muslim countries, having enjoyed racial peace for nearly four decades. But it follows a dual justice system. Islamic, Shariah, courts administer the personal affairs of Muslims, while civil courts govern Hindus, Christians, Buddhists and other religious minorities.
Under Islamic law, a person who is born Muslim cannot convert to another religion.
The Islamic Religious Department in southern Malacca state detained Revathi, an ethnic Indian, in January and sent her for religious counseling after officials discovered she had married a Hindu man.
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