Appeals court to decide on Oct 14 on use of word ‘Allah’

Members of Perkasa and other Muslim NGOs outside the Court of Appeal, September 10, 2013. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Members of Perkasa and other Muslim NGOs outside the Court of Appeal, September 10, 2013. — Picture by Choo Choy May

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PUTRAJAYA, Oct 7 — The much-awaited decision on whether or not the Catholic weekly publication The Herald can use the word ‘Allah’ will be delivered by the Court of Appeal here on Oct 14.

Senior Federal Counsel Andi Razalijaya A. Dadi told Bernama that the Attorney-General’s Chambers had just received a letter from the Court of Appeal registry notifying that the decision was fixed for Oct 14.

The Court of Appeal’s three-member panel comprising Federal Court judge Datuk Seri Mohamed Apandi Ali and Court of Appeal judges Datuk Abdul Aziz Abd Rahim and Datuk Mohd Zawawi Salleh had on Sept 10 this year reserved their decision on the appeal of the matter after completing hearing submissions from parties in the case.

Justice Mohamed Apandi was a Court of Appeal judge when he heard the appeal.

He was elevated as a Federal Court judge on Sept 30.

The panel had heard the appeal brought by the Home Ministry and the government against a high court decision in allowing The Herald to use the word ‘Allah’.

Meanwhile, counsel Hanif Khatri Abdullah, who is representing the Malaysian Chinese Muslim Association (MCMA), confirmed that the Court of Appeal had notified solicitor Tajuddin Razak about the decision date on Oct 14.

On Feb 16, 2010, the church filed a judicial review application naming the ministry and the government as respondents, seeking, among others, a declaration that the ministry’s decision to prohibit the use of the word ‘Allah’ in The Herald publication was illegal.

The weekly, published in four languages, has been using the word ‘Allah’ to refer to ‘God’ in its Malay-language section, specially to cater to the people in Sabah and Sarawak.

On Dec 31, 2009, the High Court declared the decision by the Home Ministry prohibiting The Herald from using the word as illegal, null and void.

During the appeal before that panel, Senior Federal Counsel Suzana Atan representing the government had submitted that the Home Minister had banned the

use of the word ‘Allah’ in the Bahasa Malaysia version of The Herald on grounds of national security and public order.

She (Suzana) had said the prohibition was ordered as it touched on Islamic religious sensitivity.

Counsel Porres Royan, who is leading the lawyers for the Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church, had submitted that the term ‘Allah’ has been used in Sabah and Sarawak to denote God and had not created any public disorder.

He had further submitted that the use of the word ‘Allah’ would be within the Christian community.

Royan said the Home Minister did not have sufficient material before him when he made the decision to ban the word.

Lawyer Mubashir Mansor, representing the Terengganu State Islamic Religious Council, had submitted that there was an enactment in Terengganu banning the use of the word by non-Muslims which was aimed to stop non-Muslims from propagating their religions to Muslims.

Lawyer Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahman, for the Selangor Islamic Religious Council, had submitted that there was no usage of the word ‘Allah’ in the English version of the Bible, hence it was inappropriate to equate the translation of God as ‘Allah’ which referred to the Muslim God. – Bernama 

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