Malaysia's non-Muslim religious leaders have emerged from the shadows to conduct a month-long protest outside the High Court, as they demand constitutional protection against the encroachment of Islamic sharia law. Vigils have been held nightly since last Thursday, a day after a High Court judge ruled that he had no jurisdiction to stop Islamic authorities burying Everest mountaineer Mariam Moorthy, or Muhammad Abdullah, 36, as a Muslim, despite the vehement objections of his Hindu wife. The vigils, organised by the Malaysian Consultative Council for Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism are also being attended by lawyers, human rights activists and even some Muslims. 'The Moorthy case has shaken the non-Muslims and caused great unease,' said Harcharan Singh, vice-president of the consultative council, which usually maintains a low profile. 'We also want to meet Prime Minister Abdullah [Badawi] and submit a detailed memorandum of our grievances.' The High Court's decision shocked non-Muslims and raised worries that Muslim judges and the Islamic Affairs Department were putting Islam over constitutional guarantees and secular laws. Moorthy's widow protested that he was a lifelong Hindu, but army colleagues claimed he had recently converted to Islam without her knowledge. Moorthy, a member of a Malaysian team which climbed Mount Everest in 1997, died last month of head injuries after a fall. The council wants the constitution amended to ensure civil law is applied when non-Muslims get entangled in sharia cases, such as those involving conversions, child custody and disposal of property. The case sparked protests among non-Muslims and moderate Muslims alike. Moorthy's family has applied to a higher court to exhume his body from its Muslim grave and give it a Hindu burial. 'We are uneasy. We are uncomfortable. We are feeling threatened,' said Reverend Wong Kim Wong, secretary-general of the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship. 'We cannot allow a small group [of Muslim administrators] who are extreme in their views to dominate the nation's social and religious life.' The main opposition Democratic Action Party is campaigning to repeal an article of the constitution which states that civil courts must stay out of Islamic matters. That article was inserted into the constitution by former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad in 1988 after he had jailed over 100 parliamentarians and activists. Zaid Ibrahim, an MP and prominent reformist in Umno, the dominant party in the ruling coalition, said a constitutional court should be created to interpret the laws and give remedy to non-Muslims. 'Lesser mortals must not play God with peoples' lives. We must devise a legal system that does what is right and fair to all,' Mr Zaid said.