Hornbill Unleashed

October 29, 2013

Home Ministry says it wanted to make sure no “Allah” in seized Herald copies

The Herald is currently appealing against the Court of Appeal ruling prohibiting it from using the word Allah in its Bahasa Malaysia edition. - The Malaysian Insider pic, October 28, 2013.RITA JONG

The Herald is currently appealing against the Court of Appeal ruling prohibiting it from using the word Allah in its Bahasa Malaysia edition. – The Malaysian Insider pic, October 28, 2013.The Home Ministry today said that the seizure of the Catholic weekly Herald in Sabah last week was only for inspection.

Defending its move to stop the distribution of 2,000 copies of the newsletter to churches in Sabah, the ministry said it was to ensure that the latest issue did not contain the word Allah, in line with the Court of Appeal ruling on October 14.

“However the copies were released for circulation today after the inspection found that the word Allah was not used in this issue,” the ministry said on its official Facebook page this morning.

It said that only 53 copies were taken on Friday by the Home Ministry’s Al-Quran Text and Publication Control Department.

It was reported that 2,000 copies of Herald were stopped by the ministry when it arrived at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport on Thursday.

The forwarding company was informed by the authorities that the consignment could not be distributed to churches in Sabah.

Several East Malaysian politicians have condemned the action, pointing out that Putrajaya had already given assurance to Christians there that they could continue use the word Allah in their Bahasa Malaysia service.

The Malaysian Insider reported yesterday that Archbishop Tan Sri Murphy Pakiam had sought the intervention of Barisan Nasional MP Datuk Wilfred Madius Tangau to get the 2,000 copies released for distribution.

However, it was too late to distribute the weekly in time for Sunday services at churches. The forwarding agent was unable to get the copies out as Sunday was a public holiday.

Herald editor Father Lawrence Andrew said the Home Ministry had already informed the forwarding company on Sunday morning that Putrajaya had cleared the weekly for distribution.

The Catholic Church prints 14,000 copies of the Herald weekly to cater to some one million Catholics in the country.

Andrew said Allah was used in inverted commas in the latest edition when referring to the Court of Appeal ruling.

On October 14, a three-man Court of Appeal bench ruled that Herald must not use the word Allah in its Bahasa Malaysia section, overturning a High Court decision in December 2009.

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