Council of Churches says no to dialogue with Home Ministry over ‘Allah’ use

The council said it would be inappropriate to hold a dialogue regarding the issue since the government is appealing against the High Court decision. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
The council said it would be inappropriate to hold a dialogue regarding the issue since the government is appealing against the High Court decision. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

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KUALA LUMPUR, March 19 ― The Council of Churches of Malaysia (CCM) has expressed disagreement with the Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin’s proposal to initiate a dialogue session to resolve dispute over the use of the word ‘Allah’. 

The council today in a statement said it would be inappropriate to hold a dialogue regarding the issue since the government had on March 15 filed a Notice of Appeal against the High Court decision. 

“Since the matter is now in the Court of Appeal, we are of the view that it is highly inappropriate for the issue to be resolved through a dialogue initiated by the Home Ministry, who is one of  the Appellants,” the council said. 

Earlier today, Hamzah said he would call for a dialogue at the end of the month with Islamic and Christian scholars to resolve the dispute over the use of the word ‘Allah’ which has been a legal issue since 2008. 

He, however, pointed out that while finding solutions to this issue, it must be within the framework of the Federal Constitution.

Hamzah also said the appeal against the High Court decision allowing Christians to use the word “Allah” in religious publications for educational purposes would proceed.

The government had on Monday said it was appealing against the High Court decision and a notice of appeal was filed at the Kuala Lumpur High Court. 

On March 10, the High Court had ruled that the Malaysian government’s directive issued in 1986 with a total ban on the use of the word “Allah” in Christian publications is unconstitutional and invalid.

It also declared orders to affirm Sarawakian Bumiputera Christian Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill’s right to not be discriminated against and practice her faith.

The judge granted three of the specific constitutional reliefs sought by the Sarawakian native of the Melanau tribe.

The three orders granted by the judge include a declaration that it is Jill Ireland’s constitutional right under the Federal Constitution’s Article 3, 8, 11 and 12 to import the publications in the exercise of her rights to practise religion and right to education.

The other two declarations granted by the judge today are that a declaration under Article 8 that Jill Ireland is guaranteed equality of all persons before the law and is protected from discrimination against citizens on the grounds of religion in the administration of the law ― specifically the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 and Customs Act 1967), and a declaration that government directive issued by the Home Ministry’s publication control’s division via a circular dated December 5, 1986, is unlawful and unconstitutional.

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