Judges to decide on church's usage of 'Allah' by October

Judges to decide on church's usage of 'Allah' by October

PUTRAJAYA - The Court of Appeal has reserved judgment until October over whether the Catholic Church can continue to use the word "Allah" in its weekly magazine The Herald.

Justice Mohd Apandi Ali, who presided over the appeal with Justices Mohd Zawawi Salleh and Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahim, told the courtroom that they would decide "by October latest, and with written grounds".

The court had earlier heard submissions from lawyers for the Home Ministry and Government, interested Muslim groups and the Catholic Church.

In appealing a 2009 High Court decision that allowed Archbishop Murphy Pakiam's application for The Herald to use "Allah" for God in its Malay section, Senior Federal Counsel Suzanna Atan contended that the Home Minister's decision to prohibit the use of the word could not be questioned as he had acted within his powers and in good faith.

"The word 'Allah' is very sacred to Muslims and is placed on the highest position and its sanctity must be protected.

"Kalimah Allah refers to 'oneness' and cannot be part of the concept of the Trinity - the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost," said Suzanna, adding that the minister acted pre-emptively in prohibiting the use of the word.

The Printing Presses and Publications Act provides for this, if the minister believes an issue can cause public unrest.

The church's counsel, Porres Royan, replied that it was not enough to say there was such a potential, adding that the court should examine the material to say if that was true.

"Any discretion cannot be free from legal restraint," he said.

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