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In Malaysia, Islam's legal advance divides families and nation

Published on Jul 13, 2014 12:23 PM
Deepa Subramaniam, 30, leaves after an interview in Petaling Jaya, near Kuala Lumpur July 3, 2014. Subramaniam's estranged spouse converted from Hinduism to Islam in 2012, after their nine-year marriage broke down, taking the name Izwan Abdullah. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR (REUTERS) - Deepa Subramaniam would not let go of her son, clinging to five-year-old Mithran's leg even as the car into which he had been bundled began to accelerate.

The 30-year-old, a Hindu in Muslim-majority Malaysia, says she was dragged along the stone-strewn road outside her house until she dropped to the ground, scratched and sobbing, as her ex-husband drove off.

The alleged abduction on April 9, detailed by Subramaniam in a police report and witnessed by a neighbour, was a painful loss for the mother-of-two, who has not seen Mithran since and fears her ex-spouse's conversion to Islam will win him custody.

The case has become a focal point of tensions over the widening role of Islam, which critics say is threatening Malaysia's secular core and exacerbating fraught relations between ethnic Malays, who are Muslims, and minority Chinese and Indians.

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