Friday 23 September 2011

Tussle over body takes another strange twist

It appears the troubles have just piled up for the family of purported Muslim convert Lawrence Selvananthan, as his friends allegedly took matters into their own hands to cremate his body yesterday afternoon.

It is understood that Lawrence's friends, transporting his body to a church in Seremban for funeral rites, decided on their own to cremate his remains and bury the ashes in Segamat.

The situation has left the Lawrence's family in a fix, as they are now facing legal action initiated by the Negeri Sembilan Islamic Affairs Department (JHEAINS), said Port Dickson state assemblyperson Ravi Munusamy, who is acting as mediator in discussions between the family and religious officials.

NONERavi (left)said police officers turned up at the family's home in Lukut around midnight to serve a syariah court order on the family, informing them that action would be taken against them.

"Because of that, the mother suffered some heart problems. She is still a bit sick now, and has not risen from bed yet.

"I advised them (police) not to come at midnight. If they want to discuss anything, they should come in the day," Ravi said when contacted by Malaysiakini.

Lawrence's body was at the centre of a claim by religious officials, who stopped his family from proceeding with his funeral service and burial yesterday on grounds that he had converted to Islam three days earlier.

The situation initially sparked a tense stand-off between family members and at least 30 police officers and JHEAINS officials, though they eventually entered into discussions with Ravi and a local priest representing the family.

'No proof he converted'

Ravi said the family are very unhappy over the incident and the ensuing situation they are now faced with, saying that they have not come across sufficient evidence to back the claim by the religious authorities.

"From what we understand, it takes three weeks to complete a conversion process, as a person needs to go through a course first.

"Here they are saying that he converted just three days ago.

"Secondly, he was never circumcised, and also he never informed his family.
“If he really converted, why is it that it was not shown on his death certificate?

"If he did convert, they should have keyed it in (the national registration database) on the day that he converted. After three days there was still nothing, so he was still not endorsed as a Muslim," Ravi said.
He noted that the family was now discussing their options with their lawyer on how to proceed with the court action by JHEAINS.

Attempts to contact the JHEAINS director have so far been futile. His office said he was in a meeting.

Devout Catholic and willing convert 

Lawrence, 33-year-old father of one, was found unconscious in a parked lorry outside his store in KM9.6 Jalan Seremban, and declared dead on arrival at the Port Dickson Hospital sometime on Wednesday night.

Star today reported Pusat Dakwah Islamiyah officer Muhammad Zuwairi Baharudin as saying Lawrence had gone to the centre, with a friend named Shahul Hameed, to convert to Islam.

The officer is quoted as saying he had asked Lawrence, whose Muslim name he said was Zairy Abdullah, several times if he was certain about converting to Islam and that the latter had replied in the affirmative.

Zuwairi said he had recordings and photographs of the session.

The report also said Father Clement Lim of the Immaculate Conception Church had expressed shock at the news of Lawrence's conversion, saying the deceased was a "devout Catholic and an active member of the parish".

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