Protests in KL, Penang over 'Allah' ruling
Mon, Jan 04, 2010
New Straits Times

KUALA LUMPUR: Thirteen non-governmental organisations protested here yesterday against the use of the word "Allah" in the Herald, a Catholic weekly.

Ten police reports were also lodged by the NGOs to express their disappointment over the use of the word in the publication. About 100 protesters gathered outside the Sentul district police headquarters about 3pm before 10 representatives were allowed in.

The entourage was led by Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia secretary-general Datuk Dr Ma'amor Osman.

In his police report, Dr Ma'amor said the NGOs requested for an investigation into the publisher and that the publication stop using the word.

"We are acting based on the Rukun Negara, where Kepercayaan Kepada Tuhan (Belief in God), is a general way of describing God in the context of a multiracial country."

Dr Ma'amor said "Allah" was generally used by Muslims to describe Him exclusively.

"The issue is very sensitive, especially for Muslims in the country and has to be dealt with in a proper manner to avoid unnecessary racial tension."

Among the NGOs that participated in yesterday's protest were Majlis Permuafakatan Ummah, Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa and Malaysian Indian Muslim Congress.

On Thursday, High Court judge Lau Bee Lan granted approval to the Herald to continue using the word "Allah", after dismissing the home minister's prohibition on it.

In her decision, Lau declared that under Article 3(1) of the Federal Constitution, applicant Titular Roman Catholic Archbishop Tan Sri Murphy Pakiam had the constitutional right to use "Allah" in the Herald in the exercise of his right that religions other than Islam might be practised in peace and harmony in the country.

On Feb 16 last year, Pakiam filed for a judicial review on the usage of the word "Allah" in church publications, on the basis that the word was not exclusive to Islam.

The church publishes the Herald, a weekly which is available in English, Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese and Tamil.

It had challenged the home minister's order to stop using the word "Allah" in a non-Muslim context which was made on Jan 7 last year.

In George Town, a crowd of about 250 people gathered in front of the Penang High Court at Lebuh Light yesterday to show their unhappiness.

Hafiz Nordin, a spokesman of the Anti-Interfaith Commission Body, said it was inappropriate for non-Muslims to use the word "Allah".

"We have not gathered here to cause trouble but only to show our disagreement with the court ruling. This is a peaceful protest.

"We are here in the name of Allah, not to violate anyone else's religion," he said when he addressed the crowd.

A number of protesters, comprising members of NGOs political parties and the public also carried placards that showed their unhappiness.

Later, Penang Umno assistant secretary Mohammad Fauzi Sharif also delivered a memorandum at the Yang Dipertua Negeri's official residence at Seri Mutiara.

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