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Muslim courts closed to non-Muslim lawyers

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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, March 17 (UPI) -- A Christian lawyer in Malaysia cannot practice law in Muslim Shariah courts, a judge in Kuala Lumpur determined.

The judge dismissed the lawyer's challenge of a decision by a religious council that all lawyers in Islamic courts must be Muslim, the BBC reported Thursday. Shariah is the legal code for Islam.

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Victoria Jayaseele Martin said she wanted to appear on behalf of non-Muslim clients who have cases before such courts. Martin maintains the ban is unconstitutional and said she would appeal the decision.

Martin's attorney, Ranjit Singh, said it was difficult for non-Muslims to find counsel, who may not want to defend cases conflicting with their faith, the BBC said.

Abdul Rahim Sinwan, a lawyer for the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Council, said it was "not a problem" for non-Muslims to find Muslim lawyers to defend them.

"It goes one step further because it's a question of faith," he said.

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