Saturday, February 22

‘Allah’ ban not for Sarawak, Sabah

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Najib breaks silence over controversy, declares court decision not applicable to East Malaysia.

KUCHING: The ruling of Court of Appeal (COA) on the banning of the usage of “Allah” by non Muslims only applies to the Malay-language version of the Catholic weekly publication, The Herald.

The ruling by COA, according to Human Resources Minister Datuk Richard Riot Jaem did not apply to worship and literatures of the Christian community of Sarawak and Sabah, or the impor ted Malay Bible from Indonesia.

The 10 -point solut ions of 2011 would still be ef fective and honoured, reiterated the minister. “The decision of Court of Appeal only applies to Catholic weekly The Herald, in its Malaylanguage version.

With that, to me, there should be no cause for confusion and anxiety especially among Christians in Sarawak and Sabah,” Riot told a press conference upon touching down at Kuching International Airport here yesterday. Riot explained that he was instructed by the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak during the cabinet meeting on Wednesday to clear the air over the issue.

“I know there was a lot of anxiety, a lot of confusion arising from the decision of COA. The Prime Minister has asked all cabinet members, both Christians and Muslims to help clear the air,” explained Riot. Riot, who is also Sarawak United People’s Party deputy president pointed out that it was a non-issue for the Christians of Sarawak and Sabah as they had been using the term for more than a hundred years and they could continue to use it in worship services, prayers. sermons, and literatures.

The 10-point solution which was drawn by Minister in Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Idris Jala in 2011 was accepted by the cabinet and would continue to stand as the COA ruling had no implication on Sarawak and Sabah, he said.

As a Christian minister, Riot thanked the people of Sarawak and Sabah in particular the Christian community who have remained calm for not resorting to drastic actions to show their anger and fear over the ruling.

COA had on Monday ruled that The Herald was prohibited from using the word ‘Allah’ to refer to God, following a unanimous decision by a three-member panel led by Federal Court Judge Datuk Seri Mohamed Apandi Ali.

The ruling has caused much anxiety among the Christian community in Sarawak and Sabah as there are some 2.6 mil Bumiputera Christians who have been using the word ‘Allah’ to refer to God in sermons, hymns, prayers, public gathering or literatures.

Responses from relevant quarters such as the Association of Churches Sarawak (ACS) had been firm as its chairman Datuk Bolly Lapok described the ruling as “utterly irresponsible and grossly demeaning” and vowed that despite the ruling, “the Christians in Sabah and Sarawak will continue to worship their Allah until the Kingdom comes.”