Due to the multi-ethnic and multi-religious population of Malaysia, a dichotomy exists between Muslims
who are predominantly Malays and the non-Muslims. Article 3 of the Malaysian
Constitution enacts that Islam is the religion of the nation. However as a
provision in Clause (1) of Article 3, it is guaranteed by the Constitution that
non-Muslim nationals would be free to profess and practise their own religions.
Ms Noriani Nik Badli Shah, research manager of Sisters in Islam, an NGO which lobbies for the rights of Muslim women, said not many Muslim women were aware of this right, and those who did were discouraged from using it by social pressure.
In April the state government, led by the opposition Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS), proposed a bill to institute new laws governing rape. It was set to be tabled in the State government special assembly in July.
Sisters in Islam is shocked by a newspaper report (The Star, 19 April 2002) that JAKIM is planning to ban Muslims with no "in-depth knowledge on Islam" from expressing themselves in public on Islamic issues.