KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 17 — Umno-owned daily Mingguan Malaysia urged the authorities today to take action against those who questioned the Court of Appeal ruling on the “Allah” case, saying it has now become an issue of national security.
The editors of Mingguan Malaysia, the weekend edition of Malay-language daily Utusan Malaysia, also called for the Selangor Sultan’s recent decree - which banned the Arabic word for God to all non-Muslims in the country’s richest state, including in the Malay-language bible, the Al-Kitab, and in the Catholic weekly, the Herald - to be respected.
“Awang hopes that the authorities will take stern and more pre-emptive action because it is now a national security issue,” said Awang Selamat, a pseudonym used to relay the paper’s collective editorial voice.
“Awang is very disturbed by the reaction of certain non-Muslims who have challenged the ban, even though it has already been decided by the Court of Appeal on October 14.
“This provocation is expected to continue in various forms. How long must the Muslims be patient? Their patience has its limits,” they added.
Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah’s renewed decree on Thursday came after a discussion with the Selangor Royal Council, where it was decided that Selangor citizens should abide by the Selangor Non-Islamic Religion (Control of Propagation Among Muslims) Enactment 1988, which applies to every religion or race.
The decree by the Selangor Sultan, who is head of Islam, has complicated Putrajaya’s attempt to reassure East Malaysian Christians on their right to refer to God as “Allah”, and is also set to revive a longstanding debate on the overlap between the country’s civil and syariah legal system.
“The latest reminder by the Selangor Sultan is very clear and stern. It is hoped that no one will take the decree lightly for the sake of preserving harmony,” said Awang Selamat.
Former de facto law minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim said yesterday, however, that the royal decree could not be applicable to non-Muslims and noted that according to the Federal Constitution, only Muslims can be governed by syariah laws.
He also said it was not treason for non-Muslims to disobey the Selangor Sultan’s decree, as claimed by Islamist group Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (ISMA).
In October, the Court of Appeal ruled that the Home Ministry’s decision to ban the Herald from referring to God as “Allah” was justified, finding that the use of the word was not integral to the practice of the Christian faith.
The ruling — which overturned an earlier High Court decision that the ban was unconstitutional — has since sparked confusion over the use of the word by Christians in their worship, especially with conflicting opinions within the government itself on how far the ruling would affect practising Christians.
Putrajaya had insisted that the ruling was restricted to Herald, but detractors believed otherwise.
With the Sultan’s decree that non-Muslims cannot use “Allah” not only in their newspaper, but also in nearly all aspects of their religious life, there are questions if the blanket ban could override the Court of Appeal’s decision.