Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Catholic church debunks Putrajaya’s explanation on Allah ban

BY ELIZABETH ZACHARIAH
FEBRUARY 25, 2014
Reverend Father Andrew says the Herald's circulation is controlled and sent only to Catholic churches. – The Malaysian Insider pic, February 25, 2014.Reverend Father Andrew says the Herald's circulation is controlled and sent only to Catholic churches. – The Malaysian Insider pic, February 25, 2014.The Catholic Church has once again reiterated that its weekly newspaper, Herald, is a "controlled" publication, meant only for distribution in Catholic churches, dismissing Putrajaya's allegation that it is widely circulated.
Herald editor Reverend Father Lawrence Andrew brushed aside Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Idris Jala's claims that the newspaper's "potentially wide circulation" could make it a tool of Christian propagation.
"This is not true at all. Our circulation is controlled. It is sent only to Catholic churches for distribution among our members.
In his latest column in the Star, Idris, referring to the court case involving the Herald, said the Home Minister had exercised his discretion to prohibit the use of the word "Allah" on grounds of public order and security although Putrajaya's 10-point solution allows the Malay-language Bible containing the word.
"If anyone wants to challenge this, they can and should provide evidence if they claim otherwise," he added.
The Court of Appeal, he added, had ruled that the use of the word "Allah" in the Alkitab (pic, left), the Malay-language Bible, is different from its use in the Herald, which has a wider distribution and readership.
"The Alkitab is allowed on conditional basis to be used in the church and in the Christian community while Herald is a newsletter that can be accessed by Christians and non-Christian communities," Idris had said, adding this was why the court viewed it as a potential threat to
public order and security, and cited the attacks on churches in 2010.
However, Andrew disputed Idris' claims, noting that Herald's distribution was supposed to be private and is hardly on the scale of newspapers like Sinar Harian and Utusan Malaysia.
"Our distribution is about 16,000 copies nationwide. This is not very big compared to (newspapers) Sinar Harian or Utusan Malaysia. Besides, Herald is also not sold in the newstands like the rest.
"Most of the things he (Idris) said about propogation, we have clarified in the High Court so it should not be an issue now," he added.
Andrew said the argument that the Alkitab is allowed to be used in churches on a conditional basis while Herald can be accessed by non-Christians was not valid, as both are used only by the Christian or Catholic communities in churches.
"And the word Allah comes from quoting the Alkitab in the Herald," he said, referring to the contention that the use of the Arabic word in both the Alkitab and the Herald are different.
In his column piece titled "My Take on the 'Allah' issue", Idris (pic, right) – the main architect of Putrajaya's 10-point solution – said that differences on religious issues should be dealt through dialogue and discussions rather than through the courts.
"However, in the case of Herald, the Titular has exercised his legal rights by taking the first step to take the matter to the High Court, the Court of Appeal and now awaiting, the Supreme Court hearing," he said, referring to the Archbishop Emeritus Tan Sri Murphy Pakiam.
"As this is the highest court in the country, its judgments will be final and definitive," Idris said.
He said the 10-point solution, despite allowing Christians and churches to use the Alkitab which contains 34 words prohibited to non-Muslims (under the Selangor Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Among Muslims) Enactment 1988), did not condone propagation to Muslims.
However, Andrew revealed that only nine of the 34 words were normally used by Christians in the Alkitab, including "Firman Allah", "Allah", "ibadah", "Ilahi", "wahyu", "Rasul", "Iman", "Injil", "Imam" and "Nabi".
In 2009, the High Court ruled that Herald could use the word Allah in the Bahasa Malaysia section of the publication.
However, Putrajaya appealed the decision and the Appeal Court ruled in its favour on October 14 last year, overturning the High Court decision.
The Appellate Court found that the word Allah was "not essential to or an integral part of Christianity".
The Catholic Church has filed an appeal against the decision with the Federal Court, which is expected to hear the case on March 5. – February 25, 2014.
~ The Malaysian Insider

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