I have published a few posts arguing why non-Muslims have as much right as Muslims to use the word Allah. For once let’s hear the argument from the other side.
I leave the reader to decide for himself whether the Muslim argument is cogent on its own terms.
Church Cannot Challenge ‘Allah’ Ban, says Govt Counsel
The Sun Online LINK
KUALA LUMPUR (Dec 14, 2009):
The publisher of Herald, the Catholic weekly, cannot challenge the home minister’s prohibition on the use of the word “Allah” in its publication, the High Court heard today.Senior Federal Counsel Datuk Kamaluddin Md Said told the court the home minister had the power to impose such prohibition as condition to be attached to the permit issued under the Printing Presses and Publication Act 1984.
“A permit granted under the act must have a condition. The condition is part and parcel of the permit and it cannot be read separately, and you have no choice but to comply with it,” he said.
“Therefore, you cannot challenge the condition imposed by the minister on the permit. You can only challenge if the minister refused to grant a permit.”
Kamaluddin said this in his reply to the application for a judicial review filed by the Kuala Lumpur Roman Catholic Church over the prohibition on the use of the word “Allah” in Herald.
He further submitted that the act was one of the legislations to control the freedom of speech and expression as provided for under Article 10 of the Federal Consitution.
On Feb 16, Archbishop Tan Sri Murphy Pakiam, as publisher of Herald, filed an application for a judicial review to seek a declaration that the decision by the home minister was illegal and that the word “Allah” was not exclusive to Islam.
The home ministry had approved Herald’s publication permit on Jan 7 with conditions that the usage of the word “Allah” was prohibited and the word “Limited” (Terhad) must be endorsed on its front page, to mean that the Catholic weekly must be circulated only to Christians.
The minister prohibited the usage of the word “Allah” on the grounds of national security and to avoid misunderstanding and confusion among Muslims.
Kamaluddin, in his submission today, said the word “Allah” was exclusive to Islam as it was a “special name of the Muslim God”. Therefore, its sanctity must be protected.
“In our country, if one refers to Allah or mentions kalimah Allah, it will bring to one’s mind that it refers to the god for Muslims. Kalimah Allah is sacred to the Muslims and put at the highest position, and its sanctity must be protected,” he said.
“The usage of kalimah Allah as an interpretation of the word God may cause confusion, religious sensitivity and disharmony between the Muslims and the Christians,” he said, citing Quran verses on “Allah” which means “God the Almighty”.
In his submission, counsel Porres Royan contended that the home minister had acted irrationally and unreasonably by prohibiting the applicant from using the word “Allah” in Herald.
He said the word “Allah” was not exclusive to Islam as Christians and Muslims in Arabic-speaking countries had been using the word to refer to “One God” for centuries.
Royan also submitted that the minister had no power under the act to impose restrictions on the applicant, and that the minister had acted ultra vires the act.
“The said publication is a Catholic weekly and is intended for the dissemination of news and information on the Catholic Church in Malaysia and it is not made available to members of the public, in particular to persons professing the religion of Islam,” he said.
“The said publication also contains nothing which is likely to cause public alarm or touches on the sensitivities of the religion of Islam.”
The hear before Justice Datuk Lau Bee Lan continues tomorrow. — Bernama
Updated: 09:00PM Mon, 14 Dec 2009