Churches to continue using the word 'Allah'

Churches to continue using the word 'Allah'

PETALING JAYA - Christian churches throughout the country will continue to use the word "Allah" in worship, liturgy, prayers and educational materials as the court ruling affects only The Herald, said Christian Federation of Malaysia's (CFM) president Rev Dr Eu Hong Seng.

He said the Court of Appeal's decision does not appear to cover the use of "Allah" in the Bahasa Malaysia Bible, while the Govern-ment's 10-point solution on the permitted use of such Bibles was still applicable.

"We expect our honourable Prime Minister and the Cabinet to continue to honour the 10-point solution with respect to the Bahasa Malaysia Bible, the Alkitab," he said in a statement yesterday.

The Government announced the 10-point solution in April 2011 which allowed for the importation, publication, printing and distribution of Bahasa Malaysia bibles following uproar over the Allah issue in 2009.

Rev Eu said the Christian community was "gravely dismayed and very disappointed" by the decision as the ruling ignored the status of Malay-speaking Christians.

"By stating that 'the name Allah is not an integral part of the faith and practice of Christianity', the court has totally ignored the position of Sabah and Sarawak bumiputras, and Orang Asli Christians who constitute 60% of the church in Malaysia, and who are Bahasa Malaysia-speaking," he added.

According to the Catholic Lawyers' Society of Kuala Lumpur, the decision affects the fundamental religious rights of the minorities.

"It is of public interest especially when the court has found that the usage of the word 'Allah' is not an integral part of the Christian faith when almost 1.6 million Christians in Sabah and Sarawak have used the word for centuries," said its president Viola De Cruz Silva.

The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Toaism (MCCBCHST) supported the move by the publisher of The Herald to appeal the ruling.

Council president Jagir Singh said they were "shocked and dismayed" with the judgment which had implications at the local and international levels.

Jagir felt that the court had erred in its interpretation of Article 3 of the Federal Constitution in relation to prohibition against proselytising by non-Muslims under Article 11.

He said that the term "peace and harmony" under Article 3 was meant to provide non-Muslims religious freedom, and is separate from the protection of Islam under Article 11.

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