Franchising Allah In Malaysia

It has to come to this. We have to go to the court to decide who has the right to use the word “Allah” and who is forbidden to call God that. According to Wikipedia, the term “Allah” is used in reference to God by Arabic-speakers of the Abrahamic faiths. That includes Jews, Christians and Muslims. Who then has the authority to say that any of the Abrahamic faiths cannot address God as Allah, among the many Names of the Divine? This is not some fast food franchise that we are talking about. Can mere mortals issue edicts restricting the use of any of the Names that the Supreme Being is known as? So many questions begging answers.

The Star
Nation
Thursday December 27, 2007
MYT 9:01:50 PM

Catholic paper files writ of summons

PETALING JAYA: The publisher of Herald – The Catholic Weekly has filed a writ of summons and a statement of claim in the Kuala Lumpur High Court to seek appropriate declarations of the use of the word “Allah”.

The publisher said in a statement released Thursday that the Internal Security Ministry had issued a series of directives to the publisher to cease the use of the word “Allah” in the weekly.

The publisher also said that if they failed to do so, the publication’s permit would either be suspended or revoked.

“We have decided to have our legal position to use the word determined by the courts,” the statement said.

The weekly’s editor Reverend Father Lawrence Andrew said that the writ was filed on Dec 5.

The 13-year-old paper, which carries reports about the Catholic community in English, Malay, Tamil and Chinese, has a circulation of 12,000 for its members.

Update 2:

The Star
Nation
Sunday December 30, 2007
MYT 7:50:23 PM

Herald gets good news

By ELIZABETH LOOI

PETALING JAYA: The publisher of Herald – The Catholic Weekly newspaper, which reports on the Catholic community in English, Bahasa Malaysia, Tamil and Chinese, has had its permit renewed.

The editor, Reverend Father Lawrence Andrew, said a representative from the Internal Security Ministry delivered the letter of approval, dated Dec 28, by hand at 10am Sunday.

“We thank (Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department) Tan Sri Bernard Dompok for his assistance, as well as the various news agencies and other media groups for supporting us with their wide coverage,” Father Lawrence said in a statement.

The paper has a circulation of 12,000 among the Catholic community.

When contacted, Dompok said he had brought the matter to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi a few days before Christmas and Abdullah had promised to look into it.

“I think the permit is good news and the Government has given the Christian community a wonderful Christmas present.

“The community will certainly be happy to know that the Government is looking into their welfare,” said Dompok.

Update 3:

Nation
Friday January 4, 2008

Herald can’t use ‘Allah’ in its publications

By MAZWIN NIK ANIS

PUTRAJAYA: The Herald – The Catholic Weekly publication is not allowed to use the word “Allah” in its publications, the Cabinet decided.

The restrictions on the use of the word “Allah” was still enforceable and shall be upheld as decided by the Cabinet in two of its meetings – on Oct 18 and Nov 1, 2006, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Abdullah Mohd Zin said.

Abdullah, who said the Prime Minister had instructed him to clarify the matter so the public would not be confused, told a press conference on Thursday:

“One of the reasons given to uphold the restriction is because that it has long been the practice of this country that the world Allah refers to God according to the Muslim faith.”

It was only proper for other religions to use the word “God” and not “Allah” when referring to their God in respective beliefs, Abdullah said, adding that the use of the word “Allah” shall not be made a public debate that may give the impression as if there is no freedom of religion in the country.

“The use of the word ‘Allah’ by non-Muslims may arouse sensitivity and create confusion among Muslims in the country,” he said.

On Dec 31, the publication’s editor Father Lawrence Andrew said the weekly was allowed to continue printing its Bahasa Malaysia section with no restriction on the use of the word “Allah” for God.

He said a representative from the Internal Security Ministry delivered a letter dated Dec 28 with the permit to print the newspaper and that according to him, the letter did not place any restrictions whatsoever.

The newspaper carries reports in English, Bahasa Malaysia, Tamil and Chinese, about the Catholic community. It has a circulation of 12,000.

The ministry had earlier issued directives to the publisher to cease the use of the word “Allah” in the weekly, failing which its permit would either be suspended or revoked.

On Dec 5, the publisher filed a writ of summons in the Kuala Lumpur High Court to seek declarations of use of Allah.

When contacted later, Abdullah said that the Cabinet in the two meetings had decided that Herald – The Catholic Weekly should not use the word “Allah” in its publications.

“I would also like to remind the public that apart from the word ‘Allah’, three other words – Solat, Kaabah and Baitullah – are also prohibited and cannot be used in other religions’ publications,” he said.

Author: Peter Tan

Peter Gabriel Tan. Penangite residing in the Klang Valley. Blissfully married to Wuan. A LaSallian through and through. Minion to three cats. Wheelchair user since 1984. Columnist of Breaking Barriers with The Borneo Post. Principal Trainer at Peter Tan Training specialising in Disability Equality Training. This blog chronicles my life, thoughts and opinions. Connect with me on Twitter and Facebook.