Putrajaya files appeal against “Allah” court ruling

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Putrajaya has filed an appeal against the high court ruling that Christians can use the word “Allah” in their religious education and books.

Solicitor-General Abdul Razak Musa confirmed the notice of appeal was filed this morning.

The appeal comes after some 50 Muslim civil society groups urged the Home Ministry to appeal the high court ruling yesterday at a gathering in Kuala Lumpur.

Chairman of the Pembela Islam group Aminuddin Yahaya said the court ruling must not be executed until the appeal process is over.

Yusof Mat Isa

“The ministry must issue a new circular to ban the use of the word if the request for leave is not granted,” he said at a press conference in Kg Baru, Kuala Lumpur, today.

This is among the six resolutions mooted by the group after a meeting today.

Aminuddin said the high court ruling contradicts a previous Federal Court decision.

Last week the Court of Appeal ruled that Christians could use the word “Allah” and three other Arabic words as part of their freedom of religion.

The three other words are “Baitullah”, “Kaabah” and “solat”.

Court of Appeal judge Nor Bee Ariffin, sitting as high court judge, had issued the ruling for a judicial review application from Sarawakian Christian, Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill, who challenged the ministry’s 1986 order banning the use of those words by non-Muslims.

Jill Ireland had filed a legal challenge as to the constitutionality of the ban in 2008, after educational Christian CDs she had brought in from Indonesia containing the word “Allah” were seized from her upon arriving at Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2.

The Home Ministry’s 1986 order also banned the words “Baitullah”, “Kaabah” and “solat” by non-Muslims.

Ireland’s CDs were confiscated based on this order.

In 2014, the high court ruled in her favour and found that the Home Ministry was wrong to seize the CDs.

Judge Zaleha Yusof ordered the ministry to return all eight CDs and to pay RM5,000 in costs. However, the judge did not address the constitutional points raised in summing up.

Non-Muslims have been fighting in the courts for the right to use the word “Allah” for more than a decade.

Besides Ireland’s case, the Catholic Church also went to court over the word, which is used in its weekly publication, Herald.

In 2015, the Federal Court dismissed the church’s application to review an earlier decision of the apex court not to grant leave to appeal the ban on the word. – TMI