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Govt to present proposal to Malay rulers on 'Allah' dispute

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim says the Cabinet has received the Agong's consent for this.

Staff Writers
2 minute read
The Putra Pedrana building in Putrajaya which houses the Prime Minister's Office.
The Putra Pedrana building in Putrajaya which houses the Prime Minister's Office.

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim says the Cabinet will present a proposal to the Malay rulers on the dispute over the government's decision to withdraw its appeal against the court's verdict in the "Allah" case. 

In a statement, he said the Cabinet had received the consent of the king for this.

"This is to strengthen the enforcement of policies regarding the use of the word 'Allah' to the Council of Rulers, and at the same time to strengthen unity and harmony among the races and religions in Malaysia," he said. 

Putrajaya announced earlier this week that it was dropping its appeal to challenge a High Court decision in 2021 allowing Christians to use the word "Allah" in their religious publications.

The High Court had then ruled in favour of an application filed by a Sarawakian Christian, Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill.

She had sought a court declaration that her constitutional rights were violated when the home ministry in 2008 seized Christian religious CDs and books using the term "Allah" under Section 9(1) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984.

The government under then prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin subsequently filed an appeal against the ruling. 

Anwar said the matter had been discussed at the Cabinet meeting today. 

"The Cabinet notes that the decision only concerned administrative matters and did not change the ruling of the Federal Court in 2014," he added.

"It affirmed that the government respects, certifies and adopts the state enactments and the decree of the Agong on Feb 7, in which he decreed that the existing policies related to the use of the word 'Allah' should be maintained.

"The government will always uphold the Federal Constitution, especially Article 3 regarding Islam as the religion of the federation, with other religions allowed to be practised in peace." 

Putrajaya's move to drop the appeal sparked criticism from Muslim groups, while Muhyiddin said earlier today that the government should have allowed the court to solve the dispute. 

Anwar had yesterday defended the decision, saying the prohibition on non-Muslims using the term "Allah" in their religious materials remained.

Selangor Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari meanwhile said that the use of "Allah" by non-Muslims in the state would remain off limits, in line with the decree of Selangor ruler Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah in March 2021. 

He said this was in line with the Federal Court decision in the 2014 case involving the Roman Catholic archbishop of Kuala Lumpur and the home ministry, as well as the fatwa gazetted in Selangor on Feb 18, 2010. 

"The Selangor government takes note of the home ministry's explanation regarding the related state enactments, and expresses its committment that the state's rights and enactments, especially those involving this issue, which are provided for under the Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation among Muslims) 1988, will continue to be defended.

"This means that this development will not affect or threaten the state government's position regarding the use of the word 'Allah'.

"The state government firmly protects the interests and sensitivity that religious beliefs should be respected without undermining the harmony and unity that has been built and is the foundation of Selangor."