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Woman loses bid to switch religions

PUTRAJAYA -- Malaysia's top civil court yesterday rejected a woman's appeal to be recognized as a Christian in a landmark case that tested the limits of religious freedom in this moderate Islamic country. Lina Joy, who was born Azlina Jailani, had applied for a name change on her government identity card. The National Registration Department obliged but refused to drop Muslim from the religion column. She appealed the decision to a civil court but was told she must take it to Islamic Shariah courts. Joy, 43, argued that she should not be bound by Shariah law because she is a Christian. A three-judge Federal Court panel ruled that only the Islamic Shariah Court has the power to allow her to remove the word "Islam" from the religion category on her identity card. (AP)


Journalists receive a sinister threat
ISLAMABAD -- Three Pakistani journalists working for foreign news organizations in Karachi found bullets placed in their cars in what a local media body described yesterday as an attempt to intimidate the press into silence. Karachi has been tense since May 12, when nearly 40 people were killed in clashes between rival political groups. Last week a shadowy group associated with the party that controls Karachi issued a list of a dozen journalists, terming them "enemies." Two of the journalists who received bullets were on the list. (Reuters)


Court bans nation's former ruling party
BANGKOK -- A court disbanded the political party of Thailand's ousted prime minister yesterday, barring him and 110 party executives from politics for five years due to election law violations. The ruling by the Constitutional Tribunal followed a guilty verdict against the Thai Rak Thai Party for financing obscure parties to run against it in elections last year to get around turnout rules. The court also disbanded three smaller parties, two of them hired by Thai Rak Thai. (AP)