Hornbill Unleashed

October 31, 2013

Sabah church group says can’t stop them using Allah to instruct Christians

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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Christians form the majority of Sabah and Sarawak. - The Malaysian Insider file pic, October 30, 2013.V. ANBALAGAN

Christians form the majority of Sabah and Sarawak. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, October 30, 2013.Law enforcement agencies must prosecute Christians who attempt to proselytize Muslims but the Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB) is totally against Putrajaya banning the word Allah from being used for religious instructions to Christians.

SIB Sabah president Reverend Datuk Jeffrey W. A. Dusing said there were many laws in the country which can be used to act against the minority who attempt to convert Muslims, but “the majority of Christians should not be punished”.

“Putrajaya cannot tell us we cannot use the word as it violates religious freedom and constitutional rights,” he told reporters after attending a case management on the Sabah church group’s challenge against the Home Minister’s seizure of religious books that contained the word Allah.

He said there was never a threat of public disorder or to national security nationwide when Christians used the word during prayers and worship in the past.

Dusing also stressed that Putrajaya must honour the 20-point agreement with Sabah and the 18-point agreement with Sarawak when the two territories formed Malaysia together with Singapore and the Federation of Malaya 50 years ago.

“The first point in the 20-point agreement is the constitutional right which guarantees Sabahans they can practice their faith freely,” he said, adding that all parties should return to the “point of origin” when the enlarged federation was formed.

“We need not be grateful to anybody because all were equal partners to the Malaysia agreement. Religious leaders must stress this point now.”

He also pointed out that Christians were the overwhelming majority in Sabah and Sarawak although they were outnumbered in Malaysia as a whole.

He said following the Court of Appeal ruling on October 14 there have been conflicting and confusing statement from leaders on the use of the word Allah.

The latest, he said, was from Datuk Seri Idris Jala who assured Christians that the word can be used in Sabah and Sarawak under the 10-point solution.

“But we cannot leave it to him to interpret the judgment,” said Dusing.

The controversy over the use of the word intensified after a three-man bench allowed Putrajaya’s appeal to ban the publisher of the Catholic weekly, Herald, from using the word in its Bahasa Malaysia section.

The court ruled that the Herald was barred from using the word as “Allah” was not integral part of the Christian faith and practice.

It also said that the sanctity of Islam, being the official religion, must to be protected and prevent Muslims from being converted to other religions.

Constitutional lawyers said the broad principle of the judgment, which covered the entire federation, meant that non-Muslim publications could not use the word in whatever form.

They said the judgement had diluted the 10-point solution agreed upon in 2011 which, among others, allowed the word Allah to be used in the Bahasa Malaysia version of the Bible.

Dusing said the word Allah was not only used in the religious text but in newspapers, songs, sermons, liturgy and prayer books for the purpose of instructing Christians in their faith.

“You cannot restrict these materials within the church or congregation. Also, almost all the publications can be accessed online,” he said.

On August 15, 2007, three boxes of children’s Christian educational publications being imported from Indonesia to Sabah were seized at the Low Cost Carrier Terminal in Sepang.

The Home Ministry relied on a 1986 ministerial order to confiscate the material on grounds that Allah was one of the four words which could not be used in non-Muslim publications.

The court has fixed November 29 for another case management.

Meanwhile, the case management of a similar matter involving Jill Ireland, whose eight Chrisitian CDs which contained the word Allah were seized in 2008 at the same terminal, was adjourned to December 13.

Lawyer Annou Xaxier said his client needed time to file additional affidavits.

Ireland, a Christian Melanau from Sarawak, had obtained leave from the High Court to challenge the home minister’s decision.

1 Comment »

  1. The picture in this article is that of St. Joseph cathedral, Kuching which I normally visit. Even if we cannot use the word in writing, we can use it in our verbal prayers. Verbal prayers said in unison in a huge congregation is very powerful, extremely powerful. Let us use that word to call god in perfect unison and with greater power, prayer is indeed the greatest power.

    Comment by i knowit all — October 31, 2013 @ 8:54 AM | Reply

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