BY JENNIFER GOMEZ
Published: 21 July 2014
Lawyer for Jill Ireland, Annou Xavier (left), and a representative from the Bible Society Malaysia, Alfred Tais, at the Kuala Lumpur High Court on June 30, 2014. Ireland is seeking the return of CDs containing the word 'Allah', which were confiscated in 2008. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Shafiq Safiee, July 21, 2014.
The High Court today ordered the return of eight Christian CDs containing the word “Allah” which the Home Ministry had confiscated from Jill Ireland at the then Low-Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) in Sepang in 2008.
Judge Datuk Zaleha Yusof while ordering the return of the CDs to the Melanau clerk did not set a time frame for it to be complied.
However, she did not make any ruling on the constitutional issue on whether Christians had the right to use the word “Allah” in their worship
Ireland's lawyer Annou Xavier said that they would decide on the next course of action after the CDS were returned.
On May 11, 2008, officials seized eight Christian CDs from Ireland at the LCCT, prompting the Melanau Christian to challenge the seizure in court.
The CDs, which Ireland had bought in 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 August 2008, Ireland filed a judicial review of the ministry's action and a return of the CDs.
She has also asked for a declaration, saying that she has a legitimate expectation to exercise the right to use "Allah" and to continue to own and import such materials.
On May 4, 2009, the High Court granted Ireland leave for judicial review and the case has been fixed before a judge on February 5.
Ireland's legal team had argued that this case was not about Christianity against Islam, but about her constitutional right as a native Bumiputera Christian.
Putrajaya had submitted that the minister had exercised his power under the Printing Act, which gave him power to withhold the material if it was likely to be prejudicial to public order.
"The home minister was satisfied that the use of the word 'Allah' in the CDs may cause harm to public order as well as cause religious sensitivity among Christians and Muslims in Malaysia.
"In Islam, Allah is based on the concept of Oneness but this is not the same in Christianity which follows the concept of Trinity," senior federal counsel Munahyza Mustafa had said at the last hearing date.
This decision comes after the Federal Court had last month dismissed the application for leave by the Catholic Church to appeal against the ban on its weekly publication Herald from using the word “Allah”.
Four of the seven-member bench dismissed the church's application for appeal, citing that the Court of Appeal was right in its decision to ban the word in the Catholic weekly.
Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria, who led the seven-man bench, said the President of Court of Appeal Tan Sri Md Raus Sharif, Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinuddin and Federal court judge Tan Sri Suriyadi Halim Omar agreed that the leave should not be granted.
Three other judges – Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Richard Malanjum, and Federal Court judges Datuk Zainun Ali and Tan Sri Jeffrey Tan Kok Hwa – held that leave must be granted to the Catholic Church. – July 21, 2014.