PUTRAJAYA, May 17 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today said his government will seek an audience with the Conference of Rulers concerning the use of the word “Allah” in a non-Muslim context as controversy continues to rage over the Arabic word for God in Malaysia.
He said his Cabinet had earlier today discussed the Attorney-General’s decision to withdraw its appeal in the Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill court dispute concerning the seizure of the Sarawakian Bumiputera Christian’s imported religious publications back in 2014.
“To resolve this issue holistically and cohesively, the Cabinet today receive consent from the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to present its proposals to strengthen enforcement on the use of the word ‘Allah’ to the Conference of Rulers, and at the same time strengthen interracial and inter-religious unity and harmony in Malaysia,” Anwar said in a statement this afternoon.
He stressed that his government respects and accepts the state enactments and the Agong’s decree on February 7 to maintain the existing policies on the use of the word Allah.
“The government will always defend the Federal Constitution, especially Article 3 concerning Islam as the religion of the federation, and that other religions can be practised in peace and harmony,” Anwar added.
On Monday, Anwar’s government confirmed it had withdrawn its appeal against the 2021 High Court ruling in favour of the Sarawakian native, Jill Ireland.
The move put an end to the 15-year-long legal saga that began when the government seized the Sarawak Bumiputera’s eight educational compact discs (CDs) containing the word “Allah”, the Arabic word for God, which were for her own use.
However, the decision has upset Malay and Muslim groups, and forced parties such as Umno in the national unity government to perform damage control.
Yesterday, Umno information chief Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said sought to affirm her party’s commitment to uphold Islam, saying she and her party colleagues would raise the matter in the Cabinet.
Azalina, the minister for law and institutional reforms, said more “in-depth research” must be conducted in a manner fair to all parties, and the matter must be handled with care since it involved religious sensitivities.