Selangor in the dark over Jais raid, says exco

A picture of the seal designating the Al-Kitab as being only for Christians. — Picture by Choo Choy May
A picture of the seal designating the Al-Kitab as being only for Christians. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 2 — The raid against the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) by Selangor religious officials today was not sanctioned by the state government, an executive councillor (exco) has said.

Sallehen Mukhyi, who holds the state religious affairs portfolio, said the raid, which led to the seizure of Malay-language and Iban bibles, was never discussed with him.

“Jais can receive its order from two sources,” Sallehen told The Malay Mail Online here, referring to the Selangor Islamic Religious Department.

“One is from the state government, meaning from the mentri besar. The other is from the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais), which means the order comes straight from the Sultan.”

Sallehen admitted that he was never told of the raid yet and could not confirm that it was ordered by the Sultan.

He added, however, that he will seek clarification from Jais as soon as possible.

Selangor Islamic authorities raided the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) in Petaling Jaya today and seized copies of both the Malay-language and Iban bibles that contain the word “Allah”, while two BSM officials were also held by police.

BSM executive council member Nic Ng told The Malay Mail Online today that a team of about 20 people including police officers and officials from Jais arrived at the society’s premises over an hour ago and demanded entry despite not bearing a warrant.

Ng said that the BSM workers were forced to allow the team entry after they allegedly threatened to break down the door.

Ng said that the police then told BSM president Lee Min Choon and general-secretary Dr Simon Wong to follow them to the Damansara police station.

At the police station, Lee said that he and BSM office manager Sinclair Wong were arrested under the Selangor Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Among Muslims) Enactment 1988 that prohibits non-Muslims in Selangor from using 35 Arabic words and phrases, including the word for God, “Allah”.

Jais’ raid comes after its newly-appointed director, Ahmad Zaharin Mohd Saad, said last Thursday that letters will be sent to all churches in Selangor to ask them to comply with the Selangor 1988 enactment.

In a move set to complicate Putrajaya’s bid to calm east Malaysian unease over the “Allah” row, the Selangor Sultan had on November 14 renewed his decree that the Arabic word for God be barred to all non-Muslims in the state.

Responding to the recent ruling by the Court of Appeal, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah Al-Haj has also called for an immediate halt to the word’s usage in the Malay language Bible al-Kitab and the Catholic weekly, The Herald.

Bumiputera Christians, who form about 64 per cent or close to two-thirds of the Christian community in Malaysia, have used the word “Allah” when praying and speaking in the national language and their native tongues for centuries.

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