Hornbill Unleashed

August 21, 2014

Fight to use ‘Allah’ among Christians not over, says church’s lawyer

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 8:01 AM
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In June, the Federal Court dismissed the Catholic church's application for appeal, citing that the Court of Appeal was right in its decision to ban the word ‘Allah’ in the Herald. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, August 21, 2014.V. ANBALAGAN

Malaysia’s Catholic Church will continue its fight to use the word “Allah” in its weekly publication, Herald, when it files a review application next week to set aside the Federal Court’s dismissal of its application to appeal the ban, one of its lawyers said.

The lawyer told The Malaysian Insider that the church’s review application, which could be filed as early as Monday, will also seek a new bench to rehear the leave application.

“We are compelled to file this application due to serious errors of law in the majority judgment,” the lawyer told The Malaysian Insider.

He said under Rule 137 of the Rules of the Federal Court 1995, a review application was allowed to prevent injustice or abuse of court process.

“The court papers are ready and we are waiting for the church authority to sign affidavits in support of the review,” the lawyer said.

Four of the seven-member bench dismissed the church’s application for appeal, citing that the Court of Appeal was right in its decision to ban the word in the Herald.

Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria, president of Court of Appeal Tan Sri Md Raus Sharif, Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinuddin and Federal Court judge Tan Sri Suriyadi Halim Omar were in the majority.

Three other judges – Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Richard Malanjum, and Federal Court judges Datuk Zainun Ali and Tan Sri Jeffrey Tan Kok Hwa – held that leave must be granted to the church.

Arifin, who delivered the majority judgment, said leave should be refused as the Court of Appeal had applied the correct test to determine that the home minister used his discretion to impose the ban.

However, the chief justice said the comment by the Court of Appeal that “Allah” was not an integral part of the Christian faith in support of the minister’s decision to impose a ban was a mere passing remark.

Arifin said another reason for rejecting leave was that the church had used the wrong procedure in the High Court to challenge the validity of state enactments that sought to control and restrict the propagation of non-Islamic religions’ doctrines among Muslims.

He said the correct procedure was provided under Article 4(3) of the Federal Constitution where proceedings must only begin with leave of a Federal Court judge.

Malanjum said although the challenge by the publisher was against the minister’s decision, that word was widely used in Sabah and Sarawak.

“That alone calls for the review of the Court of Appeal ruling and leave ought to be granted,” he had said.

He also said the Herald had been in circulation for 14 years before the ban was enforced by the home minister.

“There was also no evidence of prejudice to public order during that period and that the use of the word was also not prohibited in other publications like the Alkitab and the Sikh holy book.”

He said although the case only involved the Bahasa Malaysia section of the Herald, yet the Court of Appeal ruling seemed to sanction a sweeping, general prohibition against the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims in all forms, on all occasions.

Zainun said the Court of Appeal went beyond the competence of judges of fact and law in touching on the religious practices of Christians.

She said judicial method was equipped to deal with only hard facts.

Tan said the church’s application for leave could not be refused as all the requirements had been met.

“There should not be a rush to judge the issues and their merits which in the instant case have yet to be canvassed and argued,” Tan said.

On October 14 last year, Court of Appeal judge Tan Sri Mohamad Apandi Ali, who chaired the bench, said the restrictions were imposed to prevent the propagation of non-Muslim faiths on Muslims in Malaysia.

He had also said that national security and public order could be threatened if the publisher of Herald was allowed to use the word “Allah”.

Apandi had said the government did not violate the church’s constitutional rights.

“It is our common finding that the name ‘Allah’ was not an integral part of the Christian faith and practice,” he had said.

1 Comment »

  1. why we are so quiet about the ISIS in Syria and Iraq ?
    In my opinion, I feel one important factor is the ISIS r killing not one px but hundreds of ppl including children who donot beling to their group.
    What can the BN government say?

    Comment by Syanil — August 21, 2014 @ 2:56 PM | Reply


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