UMNO and PAS will latch on to the Kuala Lumpur High Court judgment that non-Muslims can use the word “Allah” to refer to God, to gain popularity in the next general election, said Sarawak’s Ba Kelalan rep Baru Bian.
Both parties have said they were not happy with yesterday’s decision and want an appeal to be filed.
Baru, who is also Selangau MP and the former works minister in the short-lived Pakatan Harapan government, said the two Malay-Muslim parties would do well to realise the majority of Malaysians do not approve of using race and religion in politics to divide and conquer.
“While we recognise the right of appeal, we would state that this matter should not be politicised as it has been from the beginning.”
He said Justice Nor Bee Ariffin had addressed the claim by certain quarters that the use of “Allah” will cause confusion among the Muslims, adding that there was no evidence of the allegation, nor was there any threat of public disorder resulting from the use of this word.
“Also, no race can claim ownership of any word. This ‘Allah’ controversy has brought ridicule to us from other Muslim countries in the Middle East, where the word Allah is used freely by Muslims and Christians alike.
“We hope all parties will let the matter rest. The decision of the high court is an affirmation that our religious freedom and rights are protected as is our expectation and we commend the judge on her bold wisdom.”
Baru said the judge’s sound reasoning and analysis of the issues was “a welcome assurance for us that the federal constitution reigns supreme”.
He also said the court decision was a correct reading of the law, adding that the court recognised the Christians of Sabah and Sarawak had been using “Allah” for generations in the practice of their Christian faith, even noting the existence of Christian publications in Malay dating back to the 1600s.
“Clearly, the usage of the word ‘Allah’ goes back to even before the formation of Malaysia and before the promulgation of the federal constitution.
“The Iban word ‘Allah Tala’, which is similar to the Muslim’s Allah Taala, has also been in use for many centuries, without any problems or confusion.”
Meanwhile, Sarawak PKR said the court ruling finally respected the federal constitution’s guarantees on freedom of religion in this country.
Joshua Jabeng, the opposition party’s state secretary, said the ruling “feels like a breath of fresh hope after a period of suffocating harassment by the authorities”.
“Religion cannot be faked or forced, and the holier-than-thou zealots must realise that before God everyone is equal.
“History has taught us that religion, when mixed with politics, can become very destructive and must be avoided,” he said in a statement.
He appealed to all peace-loving Malaysians to reject political extremists who in the name of religion “have done much to tear this country apart”. – TMI