KUALA LUMPUR, March 17 — The controversial use of the Arabic word “Allah” for God by non-Muslims that was taken to the courts began long before Pakatan Harapan (PH) became government in 2018, Amanah vice-president Datuk Seri Mujahid Yusof Rawa said.
The former Islamic affairs minister today was commenting on the landmark High Court judgment that found Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill, a Sarawakian Bumiputera Christian from the Melanau tribe, has a constitutional right to own books and compact discs that used the word.
“If someone says this issue only became a heavily debated topic while I was minister, it is simply not true. The truth is this issue was brought to court between 2008 and 2009, and has lasted until now.
“It only became a hot topic after the Home Affairs Ministry said that a number of words including ‘Allah’ cannot be used in any non-Muslim publications,” Mujahid told Malay daily Sinar Harian.
He claimed the topic became heavily politicised during his tenure in the PH administration that was cut short in February last year.
On March 10, the High Court ruled that the federal government’s directive issued in 1986 with a total ban on the use of the word “Allah” in Christian publications is unconstitutional and invalid.
The court also declared that Jill Ireland has a constitutional right to practise her religion.
Detractors have vented at Mujahid on social media recently, after the High Court judgment, as he was part of a Cabinet committee formed by the PH administration to look into the court case.
But the committee was led by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin who was at that time the home minister, along with other ministers from Sabah and Sarawak, the late Datuk Liew Vui Keong, Datuk Darell Leiking and Baru Bian.
Muhyiddin said he respects the High Court’s decision and called on Malaysians to focus on safeguarding interfaith harmony.
“It’s been over 13 years that this case has been debated, imagine if we allow hatred and hostility to dominate the situation, this country may remain unsettled,” he was quoted as saying.
He added that the priority should be to safeguard peace in the country and save Malaysia from ridicule.