Sunday, June 20, 2021

Guidelines coming on use of ‘Allah’, home minister says

Hamzah Zainudin says the guidelines will be based on existing laws and will be acceptable to those from every group.

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The home ministry says it will issue guidelines soon on use of the word “Allah” following a High Court ruling overturning an earlier ban against which Putrajaya is currently appealing.

Home Minister Hamzah Zainudin said the guidelines would be based on existing laws, and would be acceptable to those from every group.

He said discussions had been held with representatives of different religions to ensure that an agreement is reached on the matter.

He added that guidelines would be issued from time to time to ensure that every religious group has a proper understanding of the issue.

“If possible, we want this to be done as soon as possible,” he said at a press conference today.

“We don’t want this issue to be the one that divides all of 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.

The matter has sparked debate on whether the word should be used, with Selangor ruler Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah saying last month that the ban would remain in the state.

Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg meanwhile said earlier this month that non-Muslims in the state could use the word “Allah” any time.

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