Malaysia jails former teacher for apostasy

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - A Malaysian court jailed on Monday a woman follower of a bizarre cult centred around a giant tea pot for declaring herself an apostate while she was still a Muslim, news agency Bernama said.

Apostasy is a criminal offence in mainly Muslim Malaysia, whose state religion is Islam but which tolerates other major religions.

An Islamic court in the northeastern state of Terengganu sentenced Kamariah Ali, a 57-year-old former teacher, to two years in jail after she was found guilty of apostasy and refused to repent, Bernama said.

'What she did was not within the concept of freedom of religion,' Bernama quoted judge Mohamad Abdullah as saying.

Kamariah, a widow with four children, was arrested in 2005 along with 57 other followers of the bizarre cult built around a giant teapot.

The outlawed sect, headed by a man who says he is God and owner of everything, believes the teapot has healing properties.