No release of Christian CDs while ministry appeals Sarawakian's 'Allah' ruling

Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi argued that the CDs were the main basis for Putrajaya’s appeal, which would be rendered toothless if the eight items were returned to Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill. — Picture by Siow Feng Saw
Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi argued that the CDs were the main basis for Putrajaya’s appeal, which would be rendered toothless if the eight items were returned to Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill. — Picture by Siow Feng Saw

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 2 — The Home Ministry has insisted on holding on to eight Christian CDs containing the word “Allah” while it pursues an appeal against a High Court decision ordering the return of the items to a Bumiputera Christian.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was reported by The Malaysian Insider as having said in an affidavit that it is necessary that the ministry maintains custody of the items in the public’s interest.

Zahid argued that the CDs were the main basis for Putrajaya’s appeal, which would be rendered toothless if the eight items were returned to Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill.

It is understood that the case will be brought for case management on October 29.

On July 21, High Court judge Datuk Zaleha Yusof ruled that the Home Ministry was wrong to detain the CDs on a point of law and ordered the eight items to be returned, after Ireland won the right to subject the seizure of the CDs to a judicial review.

Zaleha, however, did not address nine other points raised in the Melanau Christian’s application, which included declarations that it is her constitutional right to import publications in the practice of Christianity and that she is entitled to use the word “Allah”, among other matters.

Home Ministry officials had confiscated the CDs from Ireland at the then Low-Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) in Sepang in 2008 and this prompted the Melanau Christian to challenge the seizure in court.

The CDs, which Ireland had bought in from Indonesia for personal use, bore titles such as “Cara Hidup Dalam Kerajaan Allah”, “ Hidup Benar Dalam Kerajaan Allah” and “Ibadah Yang Benar Dalam Kerajaan Allah”.

In a separate case, the Court of Appeal yesterday ruled in favour of reinstating a civil suit filed by the Sabah Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB) Church against the government over the seizure of children’s books containing the word “Allah”.

A three-member bench ruled that the High Court — which had earlier struck out the suit — was not bound by the appellate court’s decision that the use of “Allah” was not integral to the Christian faith, since the Federal Court has said that finding was a non-binding opinion.

Christians make up close to 10 per cent or 2.6 million of the Malaysian population of 30 million.

Almost two-thirds of them are Bumiputera and live 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.

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