Saturday, January 24, 2015

‘Allah’ ban wrong if not linked to conversion, says law don

Published: 23 January 2015 9:11 PM

Any blanket ban on the use of "Allah" and other Arabic words by state laws without linking it to proselytisation is unconstitutional, Emeritus Professor Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi told a lecture on human rights today.
The Universiti Teknologi Mara law lecturer said a ban on the word was particularly unfair to the people of Sabah and Sarawak, who have used it for a long time.
"I've said this many times before, 'Allah' precedes Islam.
"It may have even preceded Christianity and Judaism. It is a word more ancient that these religions," he said during question and answer session with law students at the Brickfields Asia College in Petaling Jaya today.
He said the word was also used by Sikhs and Hindus.
He said the only issue that arose was in Article 11(4) of the Federal Constitution that permits the state to pass laws to regulate the preaching of religion to Muslims.
"Religiously and linguistically speaking, there is no basis for the ban, but Article 11 clause four is there.
"Some Muslims are saying that the use of the word is an attempt to proselytise," he said.
But he added that to have a blanket ban on 35 Arabic words as in the case of Selangor without linking the usage to proselytisation was beyond the scope of Article 11 (4).
"Article 11 does not authorise a complete ban no matter what, unless it invokes proselytisation," he said.
The Selangor Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Among Muslims) Enactment 1988 bans non-Muslims from using 35 Arabic words and phrases, including "Allah".
Shad said today the concern now was that the Court of Appeal ban on the word appeared to be broad enough to cover Sabah and Sarawak.
He added that this was a problem as some of the people there only spoke in Malay.
"They have been using the word for a long time and nobody can tell them to wipe out their childhood memories and ask them to use new vocabulary.
"It is totally oppressive and unjust to ask them to change things," he said.
Shad was referring to the appellate court’s decision to uphold the Home Minister's ban on the use of the word Allah in the Catholic weekly.
The Catholic Church took their case to the Federal Court, which denied it leave to appeal against the ban in a 4-3 majority decision.
The church's review application against the Federal Court decision was also dismissed on Wednesday, ending the church's long struggle that began in 2009. – January 23, 2015.
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