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8 Desecularising Malaysian Law?

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Chapter Summary

This chapter explores the question of Islamisation or desecularisation in contemporary Malaysia through an examination and contextualisation of three recent and highly controversial legal cases. It introduces the plural legal system of Malaysia and the contested place of Islam in the legal architecture and governance of the state. The chapter scrutinises the decisions in Moorthy, Shamala and Subashini and explains the predicament of these non-Muslim women. It examines the reactions of Malaysian political and community leaders, lawyers and civil society groups, and the strategies they have adopted to resist Islamisation and press for legal solutions. The chapter analyses the place of religious authority in civil court proceedings in the light of Horowitz's convergence or harmonisation thesis, specifically focusing on the role of the Muslim judges and the rhetoric of judgment in the Shamala High Court decision and the Court of Appeal decision in Subashini.

Keywords: civil court; civil society groups; desecularisation; Islamisation; Malaysia; Moorthy; Shamala ; Subashini



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