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Hindu soldier promoted after Islamic burial

Sharia Court says soldier converted to Islam long back, wife claims otherwise, loses right to inherit property.

world Updated: Jan 04, 2006 11:02 IST

The Malaysian government has posthumously promoted an ethnic Indian soldier whose Islamic burial despite being a Hindu had whipped up a storm of protest by minority groups last month.

Moorthy Maniam, a member of Malaysia's Mount Everest expedition in 1997 who died on December 20, 2005, was promotedfrom Corporal to Sergeant, the government said.

Moorthy, paralysed waist down in 1998 after an accident, was buried with Islamic rites on December 28 by the Islamic Affairs Department.

Malaysia's Islamic Sharia Court ruled last month that Moorthy had converted from Hinduism to Islam in 2004.

Moorthy's widow claimsshe was never toldabout the conversion and added that her husbandparticipated in Hindu festivals and continued to eat pork, forbidden by Islam, during the last year. She was told about the conversion by army officials last December when Moorthy was on his death bed after slipping into a coma.

His widow was unable to plead her case in the Sharia Court because she is not a Muslim, and a civil court rejected her claim for the body for a Hindu cremation.

The Malaysian government is highly sensitive to race and religion issues to prevent unrest between the majority Malay Muslims, who comprise about 60 per cent of the 26 million population, and minority Indians and Chinese, who are mostly Hindus, Buddhists, Christians and Sikhs.