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Non-Muslims free to use ‘Allah’ any time in Sarawak, says CM

Abang Johari Openg says politicians should focus on 'big issues' concerning the public instead of fighting over use of the word.

Nur Shazreena Ali
2 minute read
Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg. Photo: Bernama
Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg. Photo: Bernama

Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg today said that non-Muslims in Sarawak can use the word “Allah” any time, even as Putrajaya appeals against a High Court ruling overturning a ban on use of the word and three others by Christians in the country.

Speaking at an event in Mulu today, Abang Johari said politicians should focus on big issues concerning the public instead of fighting over use of the word “Allah”.

“Anyone can use the word ‘Allah’ here in Sarawak because I believe that we are all the same, despite the differences in our religion, race and culture,” he said.

“If other people say cannot use ‘Allah’, let them be. But here, you can use the word ‘Allah’ any time. No problem at all.”

He added that Sarawak has always been at peace because the state government does not neglect other religions.

“Sarawak is the only state that provides special assistance for other religions,” he said.

“We have our own unit to take care of the well-being of other religions. We must help build places of worship for other religions so that everyone can be happy and practise their own beliefs.”

He also urged Sarawakians to continue upholding tolerance and respect for other religions as a core value.

“All religions teach us not to lie or to slander, and we must look after other people around us to strengthen our unity.

“I uphold this (good value). After all, it is between you and God. Only God knows what you want, not humans. If we do good to other people, I believe that God will help us.”

The Kuala Lumpur High Court on March 10 ruled that Christians could use “Allah” along with three other Arabic words – “Baitullah”, “Kaabah” and “solat” – in their religious publications for educational purposes.

Court of Appeal judge Nor Bee Ariffin, sitting as a High Court judge, allowed a judicial review application by Sarawak native Christian, Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill, whose legal battle on the matter began 13 years ago.

Nor Bee in her ruling held that the 1986 directive by the home ministry barring the use of the four words was filled with illegality and irrationality.

She also said that the words could be used by the Christian community for teaching purposes as they had been in use for more than 400 years.

However, Putrajaya lodged an appeal, saying it was “not satisfied” with the ruling.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin during his recent visit to Sarawak said he would leave the matter to the court.

“The appeal is on, so let’s wait for the result. I would not want to express my personal feelings because it could be sub judice.

“The attorney-general has appealed to that, and I will leave it entirely to the court,” he said.

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