The Federal Court's decision on the Herald's case will have huge implications and can be used as a sign of "approval" for the Selangor Islamic Religious Department's (Jais) seizure of Malay and Iban language versions of the Bible, constitutional experts said.
Abdul Aziz Bari said it was "disappointing" that the Federal Court had decided not to grant leave for the appeal, which means the Court of Appeal decision stands.
"Practically now, the authorities can dictate the way religions other than Islam are being practised, even when there is no clear evidence it jeopardises public order," he told Malaysiakini today.
Aziz (left) was responding to former Perkasa vice-president Zulkifli Noordin, who is a lawyer by profession, who said the Federal Court's refusal to grant leave in a way justified Jais' seizure of the Bible and is not limited to the usage of the word 'Allah' in Herald alone.
Abdul Aziz said while the Court of Appeal had tried to have religions co-exist peacefully, it has done so "at the expense" of non-Muslims.
"There is no absolute rule that only Muslims can use Allah as evidenced by the questions posed by prominent scholars from other parts of the Muslim world.
"The one aspect that I find it hard to live with about the decision is that the ban was justified on the basis of Christian doctrine. But is the court qualified to do that?" he asked.
'Going beyond four walls of the case'
Another constitutional expert, lawyer Syahredzan Johan, also echoed similar concerns.
"This is exactly what we are concerned with - that the decision goes beyond the four walls of the case.
“The Court of Appeal decision is so wide it can be applied to other cases. Especially, since there is a finding that Allah is not integral to the Christian faith," he said.
He said that it is no longer a decision as to whether the home minister can prohibit Herald from using the word Allah, but it is a decision that "Christians cannot use the word at all."
"Now, you can stop a community from practicing its faith in a certain way under the reasoning that the practice would cause confusion," he said.