KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 28 — The Johor Islamic Religious Council (Maij) has dropped its bid to be part of the Malaysian government’s appeal against a High Court decision that had quashed a 1986 ban on the word “Allah” in Christian publications.
In this case, the home minister and the Malaysian government are appealing against the High Court’s March decision this year in favour of a Sarawakian Bumiputera Christian, Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill.
The Malaysian government’s 1986 directive to ban the use of the word “Allah” was used by authorities previously to justify the seizure in 2008 of eight educational compact discs meant for Melanau native Jill Ireland personal use, with the CDs returned to her seven years later in 2015.
The word “Allah” is Arabic for God and has been adopted into the Malay language where it has been used for generations by Malay-speaking Christians in the country, especially those living in Sabah and Sarawak.
In March, the High Court declared that the government’s written directive via the Home Ministry’s December 5, 1986 circular was unlawful and unconstitutional.
The High Court had also in March made two other declarations to uphold the Bahasa Malaysia-speaking Jill Ireland’s constitutional rights to import the eight CDs in exercise of her rights to practise religion and right to education, and that she is under the Federal Constitution guaranteed equality of all persons before the law and protected from being discriminated on religious basis.
With the Malaysian government and home minister appealing in March, Maij as well as the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Council (Maiwp) were later reported in June to have filed applications to be interveners or to join the appeal.
It is understood that the Selangor Islamic religious council (Mais) had in early August applied to also be an intervener or to be part of the appeal.
Yesterday, the appeal had come up for case management at the Court of Appeal before deputy registrar Radzilawatee Abdul Rahman.
Jill Ireland’s lawyer Annou Xavier confirmed that Maij was allowed yesterday to withdraw its intervener application, and said that both Mais and Maiwp still intend to be interveners at the appeal.
It is understood that Maij was represented in the case management yesterday by lawyer Datuk Ikbal Salam, while Mais and Maiwp were both represented by lawyer Zirwatul Hanan Abdul Rahman. The home minister was represented by the Attorney-General’s Chambers’ senior federal counsel Noor Atiqah Zainal Abidin.
The government’s appeal has yet to be heard, and is scheduled for case management on November 12.