Press Statements and Articles

Keeping track of the "Allah" court cases

24 February 2014

Keeping track of the "Allah" court cases


Protestors outside the court building in Putrajaya on 13 September 2013.

 

FAR from over, the "Allah" controversy will continue to stir the nation now that the following three cases are in the courts:

4 March - The SIB Sabah case in the High Court:

SIB Sabah filed for a judicial review of the Home Ministry's actions after three boxes of Sunday School books from Indonesia were seized at the Sepang Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) in August 2007. In filing the suit, SIB Sabah also asked the court for the seized books to be returned. The books have been returned but SIB Sabah is pressing ahead in seeking declaratory reliefs on the right to use "Allah" by Christians. SIB Sabah President Rev Datuk Jerry Dusing has said, "It is more than just a word; it is about the fundamental right to worship God in the way we have been doing for generations without hindrance". On 4 March 2014, the High Court will decide whether to grant leave to SIB Sabah to proceed with its request for a judicial review.

 

5 March - The Herald's appeal to the Federal Court:

The Catholic publication is appealing against the ruling delivered last October by the Court of Appeal that it cannot use "Allah" in its Bahasa Malaysia version. The appellate court had decided in favour of the Government which sought to reverse the High Court ruling in 2009 allowing the weekly its constitutional right under the freedom of religion to use the word. The Government's ban on the word is ostensibly to prevent Muslims from getting "confused" which may then lead to a breakdown in public order. The High Court ruled that there was no such evidence because The Herald is circulated and read within a small non-Muslim circle and is available by subscription only.

The Federal Court will decide on 5 March 2014 after hearing arguments, if it will allow The Herald to proceed with its appeal. The Catholic Church is also raising 26 questions of law to the Federal Court covering constitutional issues (on Islam as the religion of the federation, on the freedom of speech and freedom of religion); administrative issues (the Home Minister's powers to ban The Herald); and the scope of the court's powers to decide on religion (the Court of Appeal said that "Allah" was not integral to Christian faith and practice).

 

6 March - The Jill Ireland case in the High Court:

Eight CDs from Indonesia were confiscated from Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill, a Melanau Christian from Sarawak, at the LCCT in Sepang on 11 May 2008. The CD titles had the word "Allah" in them, such as Cara Hidup Dalam Kerajaan Allah. Jill Ireland filed for a judicial review of the seizure in August the same year, asking for a declaration that she has a legitimate right to use the word "Allah". The High Court has granted her leave for the judicial review. The next date for case management is 6 March 2014. What's notable in this case are the affidavits filed in support of Jill Ireland by Malay Muslim academicians - Universiti Malaya law professor Dr Azmi Sharom and International Islamic University law lecturer Dr Abdul Aziz Bari. Both affirmed the constitutional right of non-Muslim minorities to the freedom of religion, including use of "Allah" as long as it was not for propagating Christianity.

The above three cases present a spectrum of the right to practice one's religion - with regards to published material (The Herald), the education of young believers (SIB Sabah and Sunday School books) and personal use of materials (Jill Ireland's CDs).

Prayer points for these cases:

  • The judges will decide fairly and without bias.
  • The lawyers will present strong and clear arguments.
  • There will be peace on the streets and outside the courts during the hearings.
  • The outcome will be favourable and in line with what God wills for Malaysia.
  • That God's work among those He is calling to Himself through this controversy will continue unhindered.

 



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