Sunday, April 26, 2009

Hishammuddin Must Settle "Allah" Controversy

The Roman Catholic Church in Malaysia won the right to challenge the government’s ban on the right to use the word “Allah” to mean "God" outside of Islam when the High Court granted leave to the Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur, as the publisher of Catholic newspaper The Herald, in his application for a judicial review yesterday.

We fully supports the appropriate use of the term “Allah” outside of Islam by other religions, and the right of the Church to contest the ban by the Ministry of Home Affairs of its use in the courts.

However, we find the entire process of the Church having to go to Courts to seek a declaration for its rights to use the term “Allah”, a term which it has been using since before independence, an unnecessary and farcical process.

As highlighted incessantly over the past 3 years or more, this term has been used by religions other than Islam all over the world for decades, if not centuries. The term “Allah” has been used in Indonesia and the Middle East by Christians without prosecution or controversy, despite both being overwhelmingly Muslim-majority regions. For the Sikhs, the term “Allah” is used in their holy book since the founding of its faith. It has been proven beyond doubt that it is not a term specifically monopolised only by Muslims.

Hence the use of the term “Allah” by Christians and Sikhs are not meant in anyway to confuse Muslims nor are Muslims so easily confused by a term which has been widely used for centuries.

The DAP supports Islam as the religion of the Federation, as prescribed in the Federal Constitution and do not view the use of “Allah” by the other religions is in any way contrary to the above position. Even PAS spiritual advisor, Nik Aziz has openly declared that “Allah” is allowed for non-Muslims.

Therefore we would like to call upon the new Minister of Home Affairs, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein under the new administration led by Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak to drop the Ministry's objections to the use of the term “Allah” in Christian and Sikh publications with immediate effect, especially when these publications are only specifically circulated to their respective members.

The Minister should adopt the mantra of the new Prime Minister, “One Malaysia: People First, Performance Now” to avoid further delays in the process, unnecessarily dragging the matter through the courts while creating tensions within the religious community. By immeidately rescinding all decrees banning the use of “Allah” and the use of the national language in non-Muslim religious newsletters, he will be taking a major step towards fostering greater goodwill among all communities to achieve the ultimate goal of “One Malaysia”.

(Note: Former BN leader, Tan Sri Leo Moggie has also come out with a statement to support the Church's cause. Thanks Elaine for the prompt.)
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