KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 19 — The prime minister should advise all Sultans to declare the use of “Allah” an exclusive Muslim right, Malay rights group Perkasa said today as it praised the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for publicly addressing the issue today.
In a brief statement here, Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali thanked Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah for taking a stand, and expressed hope that the tussle over “Allah” would finally cease.
“It is hoped that all parties will respect the King’s decree, and it will help ensure harmony for all Malaysians.
“The use of ‘Allah’ was never an issue before this, until it was politicised by certain parties,” the outspoken Malay rights leader said.
“Perkasa also hopes the PM will advise all the Malay Rulers to issue the same firm stand as the heads of Islam in their respective states,” he added.
Ibrahim also said the government, through the authorities under its jurisdiction, should take firm action against those who wrongfully use the word “Allah”.
As an example, he cited the recent raid and bible seizure conducted by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais).
Earlier today, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong declared that the right to use “Allah” belongs exclusively to Muslims, citing the 1986 edict by the National Fatwa Council.
“In the context of multi-racial society, religious sensitivity in particular Islam as the official religion of the Federation must be observed.
“Confusion and controversy could be averted if all party abide by the law and judicial decisions,” the King was quoted as saying in a speech today, according to the New Straits Times.
His speech was read out by Sultan of Kedah Council of Regency chairman Tan Sri Tunku Annuar Sultan Badlishah during the investiture ceremony held in conjunction with Sultan of Kedah’s 86th birthday at Istana Anak Bukit.
Temperatures have risen of late over the so-called “Allah” row that remains unresolved four years after it shocked the nation and led to the worst religious strife in the country’s history.
Last October, the Court of Appeal overturned a High Court ruling that had favoured the Catholic Church in its suit against the Home Ministry after the Herald was banned from publishing the word “Allah”.
The case is now pending a March 5 hearing for leave to appeal at the Federal Court.
Religious tensions deepened when shortly after the October court verdict, the Selangor Sultan issued a decree last November prohibiting non-Muslims from referring to God as “Allah”, citing a 1988 state law that bans such usage.
On January 3, Jais moved to enforce the ban and raided the office of a bible distributor before carting off with over 300 Malay and Iban language bibles that contain the word “Allah”.
Church groups and lawmakers bristled at the move and accused the authorities of violating the 10-point solution mooted by Cabinet in 2011 to resolve the issue.
The 10-point solution, issued by the Najib administration shortly before the Sarawak state election in 2011, allowed for bibles in Malay and indigenous languages to be printed, imported and distributed nationwide with certain conditions imposed for Peninsula Malaysia.
Christians make up close to 10 per cent of the Malaysian population, or 2.6 million. Almost two-thirds of them are Bumiputera and are largely based in Sabah and Sarawak, where they routinely use Bahasa Malaysia and indigenous languages in their religious practices, including describing God as “Allah” in their prayers and holy book.