Hornbill Unleashed

November 6, 2014

Seized Bibles likely to be returned by next week, say Selangor sources

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 8:00 AM
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New Selangor Menteri Besar Mohamed Azmin Ali is scheduled to meet Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah next Tuesday and they are likely to discuss the seized Bibles. – The Malaysian Insider pic, November 5, 2014.MD IZWAN

New Selangor Menteri Besar Mohamed Azmin Ali is scheduled to meet Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah next Tuesday and they are likely to discuss the seized Bibles

The Malay and Iban Bibles seized early this year containing the word “Allah” are to be returned to the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) soon, ending a 10-month standoff between Christians and the Selangor religious authorities.The Malaysian Insider understands the 321 copies of the Christian holy books, seized by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais), which forbids other faiths from using the word “Allah”, are expected to be returned within the next week.

It was learnt that new Selangor Menteri Besar Mohamed Azmin Ali had raised the contentious issue during a state council meeting which was also attended by the state mufti and religious authorities earlier this week.

“Azmin met with senior officers from both Jais and the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais) on Monday and brought up the matter with them,” a source told The Malaysian Insider.

The outcome of the meeting was said to be positive and a source hinted that everything should be completed within a week. Azmin is scheduled to meet the Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah next Tuesday and they will likely discuss the seized Bibles.

“It is a weekly meeting… most likely they will discuss this,” said a source.

“If the sultan gives his approval, Azmin is expected to direct the religious authorities to return the Bibles immediately.”

It was reported on Monday that Azmin had referred the matter to the Selangor palace, seeking a solution to the case which has dragged on for more than 10 months.

Azmin had also confirmed that he had met with Jais and Mais on the matter but was reluctant to reveal further details.

During a DAP fundraiser dinner in Petaling Jaya on Monday, Azmin once again reiterated his commitment in resolving the matter.

He told the crowd that the Bibles did not belong to Muslims and must be returned to the Christians, adding that Muslims must respect other faiths in Malaysia, and that the rights of non-Muslims to practise their religion were guaranteed in the Federal Constitution.

Azmin’s predecessor, Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim, was widely panned by DAP and even his own party, PKR, for not taking a firm stance over the Bible issue, which had dragged on for months with no resolution in sight.

In January, Jais confiscated the Bibles during a raid at the BSM office in Damansara Kim as they contained the word Allah.

The Court of Appeal had ruled that non-Muslims could not use the word “Allah” to refer to God. The court also said the word “Allah” must be exclusive to Islam or it could cause
public disorder.

Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail then ordered the Bibles to be returned to BSM, after the Selangor government under Khalid, referred the matter to him.

Although Gani concluded that the Bible distributor had done nothing wrong, Mais insisted there were grounds to prosecute BSM under the Selangor Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation among Muslims) Enactment 1988.

Khalid later referred the matter to the sultan, who ordered Jais to liaise with the state public prosecutor.

Sultan Sharafuddin’s private secretary Datuk Mohamad Munir Bani said that the sultan’s order was in line with the minutes issued by the A-G’s Chambers that “Jais has to act in accordance to the law on the issue of the seized Bibles”.

“Jais should promptly refer it to the state public prosecutor for it to be brought to court for final determination,” the sultan said in the statement.

He also said the issue should not be politicised by any quarter resulting in confusion by proposing solutions not based on the law.

But the ruler did not state to which court the authorities should refer the matter – civil or shariah.

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