The Home Ministry has rescinded a government gazette that allowed conditional use of the word "Allah" in Christian publications with immediate effect.
Admitting that there was a mistake in enacting the gazette that had resulted in confusion over the word in question, Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said the government's decision to ban the use of the word 'Allah' in Herald - The Catholic Weekly remained in force until the court decided otherwise. (Star online)
Below is a post I have written on 26 February which I did not published.
Tonight (25/2/09), I received this SMS:
"Herald is granted permission to use the word "Allah" in its publication. this is a victory for the Catholic Church. Let us all blast this SMS to everyone we know and give thanks to our Almighty God"
This was a one step forward, two steps backward so called the "victory" even Fr. Lawrence, the Chief Editor of Herald did not mention in Herald itself but only revealed this in an interview on 25 February, a day before the hearing of a judicial review regarding the use of "Allah" in Herald.
He received a letter from the Home Minister's office informing him of a gazetted government order that "The printing, publication, sale, issue, circulation and possession of any document and publication relating to Christianity containing the words 'Allah', 'Kaabah', 'Baitullah' and 'Solat' are prohibited unless on the front cover of the document and publication are written with the words 'For Christianity'." It took effect on 16 February.
This was clearly a violation of our freedom of religion. It seemed like "after consideration, we allowed........ if...... " , in actual fact, it was adding another restriction. It was an act of discrimination against Christians.
That was the way how our other rights and privileges being taken away slowly by government's so-called "kind consideration" in the past.
All of a sudden, we Christians, especially majority Bumiputra Christians in East Malaysia, found ourselves committed an offence under the Internal Security Act by having a copy of Bahasa Malaysia Bible or religious publications containing the word "Allah". All Bibles have no "For Christianity" printed on cover.
When we said our Greed "I believe" in BM, we have to replace the word "Aku percaya akan XXXXX Bapa mahakuasa"... otherwise the whole congregation would be hauled to Police Station. We are not allowed to say the word "Allah".
Ridiculous.... laughable.... tak masuk akal !
A minister's order can be repealed or revoked. It is not permanent.
Fr. Lawrence at the same time commented that the Home Minister's action may be considered as contempt of court because the judicially review is still on-going.
The Church will be seeking opinion from the Attorney General's Chamber for clarification.
The gazetted Order also drew strong protest from many Muslim organisations for allowing Herald to use the word "Allah".
P/s: with the rescinder of the order, the above were rendered academic. Luckily the Church did not withdraw the case and the judiciary review continues. Justice Lau Bee Lan of the Appellate and Special Powers division fixed May 28 for the hearing.