“Allah” back in court as M’sian authorities challenge High Court decision
- POSTED: 10 Sep 2013 20:27
- UPDATED: 10 Sep 2013 22:12
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The legal tussle over the use of the word "Allah" has found its way back to court in Malaysia on Tuesday as government and state religious authorities challenged a High Court decision to allow a Catholic newspaper to use the term to describe their god.
PUTRAJAYA: In Malaysia, the legal tussle over the use of the word "Allah" has found its way back to court.
Government and state religious authorities are challenging a landmark decision by the High Court in 2009 to allow a Catholic newspaper to use the term to describe their god.
The Court of Appeal began its hearing on Tuesday as Muslim protestors gathered outside the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya.
The High Court decision in 2009 shocked the majority Muslim population, many of whom believe the word "Allah" should only be used in the context of Islam.
Muslim rights activists accused the Herald -- the Christian publication at the centre of the controversy -- of trying to confuse Muslims into leaving their faith, which they say is an attempt to challenge the federal constitution and the rights of the Malay rulers.
Mohammed Daniel from the Malaysian Muslim Solidarity (ISMA), said: "The newer generation will be confused about Allah. They cannot differentiate between Allah and Christ."
Ibrahim Ali, president of Perkasa, said: "It is clear in the constitution that Islam is an official religion. It takes as a whole, including the name of Allah. So now, what they are doing, they are challenging."
But the Herald’s editor, Lawrence Andrew, takes a different view.
He said: "We are not challenging. We are only exercising our rights, that's all. I mean, there are also minority rights.
"Lord is Tuhan, God is Allah. In all of the Middle Eastern countries -- in Egypt and in all these places -- Christians and Muslims use the same word. It's only exclusively in Malaysia (that the word ‘Allah’ is only used in the context of Islam)... and only recently, very recently."'
The Herald took Malaysia's Home Ministry to court in 2008 for not allowing it to use the word "Allah" in its Malay publication.
The newspaper won the case in 2009 but it was still not able to use the term because of a stay order obtained by the Home Ministry, pending its appeal.
After hearing all submissions on Tuesday, the Court of Appeal withheld its decision to a later date in October.
Observers said given that the 2009 High Court decision sparked a series of attacks on houses of worship, the racial and religious sensitivities involved in this case are likely to weigh heavily on the judges' minds.