Police warns Umno, Muslim groups against church protests

Muslim NGOs gathered at Meru, Klang calling themselves a coalition named the Klang Muslims Solidarity Secretaria. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng
Muslim NGOs gathered at Meru, Klang calling themselves a coalition named the Klang Muslims Solidarity Secretaria. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 3 — Selangor police today cautioned groups planning to protest outside churches in the state over the “Allah” row that they will be punished for violating the Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA).

The PAA expressly forbids rallies and demonstrations within 50m of religious buildings, which fall under a list of prohibited places where public gatherings may not be held.

“We will take stern action,” Datuk Mohd Shukri Dahlan, the head of Selangor police, was quoted as saying by theSun today.

Umno Selangor are threatening to hold protests outside all churches in the state this Sunday over a senior Catholic priest’s insisted that the Catholic Church would not abide by Islamic authorities’ plan to bar it from using “Allah” in churches.

Newly-appointed Selangor Islamic Religious Department’sdirector Ahmad Zaharin Mohd Saad said last Thursday that letters will be sent to all churches in Selangor, asking them to comply with the state ban on non-Muslims from using 35 Arabic words and phrases, including “Allah”, which are listed under the Selangor Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Among Muslims) Enactment 1988.

Yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said Umno Selangor’s planned protests were in accordance with the state Ruler’s decree prohibiting the use of “Allah” to non-Muslims.

Since then, Malay groups such as Jalur Tiga Malaysia, Selangor Perkasa, Klang Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia, and Pertubuhan Ikatan Kebajikan dan Dakwah Selangor have also announced a plan to rally outside the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes in Klang this Sunday over the same issue.

Temperatures flared after Jais announced plans to clamp down on churches in the state that used the Arabic word, even as the so-called “Allah” row remains unresolved four years after it shocked the nation and led to the worst religious strife in the country’s history.

The ongoing legal dispute between the government and the Catholic Church over its right to print the word “Allah” in the Herald’s Bahasa Malaysia section is still pending before the Federal Court, which is set to hear arguments from both sides on February 24 before deciding on whether it will hear an appeal by the Catholic Church.