Saturday, January 2, 2010

Call on the Federal Government not to appeal against the High Court's decision allowing use of the word 'Allah'

The High Court's landmark ruling that allows the Catholic paper " The Herald ' to use the word ' Allah ' is most welcomed.

When declaring that the government's ban was illegal, Judge Lau Bee Lan said that the applicant has the constitutional right to use the word Allah.

Indeed, Malaysia's constitution guarantees the people's freedom to practice their religion , and this must therefore include the freedom to us the word Allah , a termilogy which is widely used in Indonesia and Arab nations.

Minorities in Malaysia are increasingly concerned that their rights are being threatened by institutionalized interference and discrimination. The government's acceptance of the Court's decision will send out the signal that under the Prime Minister's 1 Malaysia concept , the constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion shall be protected.

As such, I call on the Home Minister not to appeal against the High Court's decision

In fact, In February last year, Tan Sri Bernard Dompok , a Cabinet member himself, has said that the word is a universal termilogy used in the Christian world and the Home Ministry has no reason to continue harassing the Catholic Herald.

When hitting back at him Bernard Dompok , an UMNO Cabinet member Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told Mingguan Malaysia: "There are some non-Muslim leaders who are asking that permission be granted so that the word 'Allah' can be used," using Indonesia as an example.

"This is Malaysia. Do not equate us with another country. We are an Islamic country as stated in the Constitution," he said, adding that there was a hidden agenda to use the word "Allah" in the Herald, the Catholic publication.

He even said that a small group of non-Muslim leaders was trying to question the position of Islam in Malaysia.

Such emotional and hawkish stand taken by an UMNO Cabinet member offers the best explanation why the Cabinet did not do what should have been done earlier-- to rescind the Home Ministry's decision to ban the use of the word Allah.

As a result, Malaysia international image as a moderate and tolerant nation has been affected due to worldwide media coverage of the ban.

Following the landmark Court's decision, the time and opportunity has come for the Federal Government to do what is right. All other component parties of the Barisan Nasional should also welcome and support the decision and urge the government not to file an appeal in the higher Court.

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