Churches say “no” to dialogue on “Allah” issue

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It is highly inappropriate to have a dialogue with the Home Ministry over the “Allah” issue as the case is now in the Court of Appeal, said the Council of Churches of Malaysia (CCM).

CCM president Archbishop Meltar Jiki Tais said the ministry is one of the appellants in the appeal, which the government had filed following a high court decision to allow Christians to use the word “Allah”.

Tais was responding to Home Minister Hamzah Zainuddin who earlier today said the ministry will be calling for a dialogue with Islamic and Christian scholars to resolve the dispute over the use of the word “Allah”.

Hamzah said the meeting between the religious bodies was crucial so the matter can be resolved amicably.

His statement came following a Kuala Lumpur High Court landmark decision on March 10, which ruled that Sarawakian Christian Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill can use the word “Allah” in the course of practising her religion.

Judge Nor Bee Ariffin also said a 1986 Home Ministry directive banning Christians from using the word, which means “God” in Bahasa Melayu, as well as other words, was unlawful and unconstitutional.

The decision caused an uproar among peninsula-based Muslim political parties and civil society groups, while 65 other groups have urged Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to withdraw the appeal against the decision.

Selangau MP Baru Bian had said Pakatan Harapan had wanted to settle the issue out of court, but its attempts were thwarted by Muhyiddin, who was home minister during the coalition’s administration.

Tais, in a statement this evening, said Putrajaya has filed the notice of appeal against the high court decision on March 15.

“With abundance of caution, since the matter is now in the Court of Appeal, we are of the view that it is highly inappropriate for the issue to be resolved through a dialogue started by the ministry who is one of the appellants,” he said in a statement.

ACNS

“We reiterate the Christian community in Malaysia, in particular those in Sabah and Sarawak, has and always been willing to live in peace, harmony and mutual respect with communities of other religions.”

Tais is the sixth archbishop and primate of the Anglican Church in Southeast Asia. He has been the bishop of Sabah since 2015 and was the first native of Sabah to be installed as bishop of the diocese. – TMI