Lawyers for the Roman Catholic Church have argued at the Court of Appeal that the term ‘Allah’ had been used in Sabah and Sarawak to denote God and had not created any public disorder.

Porres Royan said the term had also been used by the Christians in the Middle East and also the Christians in the most populous Muslim nation, Indonesia, and as such it did not create any untoward incidents.

“Hence, the home minister had not shown any evidence that the use of the word would create public disorder,” he said.

Porres, who is leading the lawyers for the Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church, had submitted on the government’s appeal over the word ‘Allah’ in the Herald Catholic weekly.
He said the minister must give full reasons before taking a preemptive move to bar a publication from usingthe word.

Earlier today, the home minister and government’s counsel Suzana Atan submitted that the home minister had issued the order on the Herald for fear that it could give rise to confusion and may cause public disorder.

herald allah case government appeal 100913 frontThe three-member panel appellate court had heard the government’s and the church’s submission over the use of the word ‘Allah’ the whole day today as a crowd of mostly Muslims gathered by the bus loads in front of the Palace of Justice.

However, the panel led by Justice Md Apandi Ali deferred in delivering any decision today and said full written grounds would be given and read out by October.

The other members comprise of Justices Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahim and Mohd Zawawi Salleh, as the appeal was heard before a packed courtroom filled to the brim with both Muslims and Christians.

The Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Justice Lau Bee Lan had on Dec 31, 2009, declared the Home Ministry’s ban on the word on the Herald as unconstitutional, resulting in the government’s appeal today.

Inside court, the editor of the Herald, Father Lawrence Andrew, and Council of Christian Churches Malaysia general-secretary Rev Herman Shastri were present.

‘Offence to propagate Christianity to Muslims’

Porres further submitted that the use of the word ‘Allah’ would be within the Christian community and would not be used to Muslims.

Citing Aritcle 3 of the federal constitution, the lawyer said the community recognised Islam as the religion of the federation but the constitution also said other religions may be practised in peace and harmony.

“We recognise that it is an offence to propagate the religion to Muslims and hence, the use of the word ‘Allah’ would be made among the Christian community. Should the state find anyone violating this, they can take action as there is anti-propagation laws (to Muslims) in the country,” pointed out Porres.

“The article also meant that the authorities cannot impose any restrictions on how other religions should be managed,” he said.

Porres also pointed to the 10-point solution tabled by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak on April 11, 2011, to the Christian community which allows for the importation of bibles in Bahasa Malaysia and Bahasa Indonesia into Malaysia.

He said the point is that ‘Allah’ is used in the Bahasa Malaysia and Bahasa Indonesia Bibles and it defies logic that it could not be used in the Bahasa publication of the Herald. 

~ Malaysiakini