The ban on Herald, the Catholic weekly, to use the word “Allah” which was lifted by the government on Feb 16, has been rescinded.
Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar said the government had made a mistake in enacting the gazette on the issue.
He said on Saturday that the government’s decision to ban the use of the word “Allah” in the publication remained until the court decided otherwise.
“There is a judicial review on the matter and we leave it to the court to decide. I think there was a mistake in enacting the gazette. When we make a mistake I must admit that there is a need to look at it thoroughly.
“As there was a mistake … so it is better we make a correction,” he told reporters on Saturday, Bernama reported.
Syed Hamid was commenting on the call by the Malaysian Islamic Da’wah Foundation (Yadim) on Saturday urging the government to withdraw permission for the conditional use of the word “Allah” in Christian publications.
The order was signed by the Home Minister on Jan 21, 2009.
When contacted, the magazine’s editor Father Lawrence Andrew said he did not want to comment on the issue because the church had yet to receive any documents about the withdrawal of the gazette.
Derek Fernandez, a member of the panel of lawyers for the church, said: “I am not able to comment until I speak to my clients.”
Under paragraph 2(1) of the “Internal Security (Prohibition on Use of Specific Words on Document and Publication) Order 2009”, the printing, publication, sale, issue, circulation and possession of any document and publication relating to Christianity containing the words Allah, Kaabah, Baitullah and solat are prohibited unless on the front cover of the document and publication are written the words “FOR CHRISTIANITY”.
On the front page of today’s edition of Herald, an article ‘Allah’ comes under the surveillance of ISA” said “the apparent relief that we imagined we were able to enjoy has been short lived”.
“The use of the word ‘Allah’ is not new to the church in Malaysia. We have been using ‘Allah’ for centuries. So have Catholics who use Malay prayer books of more than one hundred years, which contain the word ‘Allah’.
“Malay was already the popular language of the church in Malaya before the turn of the 20th century and prior to the colonisation of our country Malaya by the British.”
The article was accompanied by a picture of two pages from an 1894 prayer book used in Malaysia which shows the word “Allah”.
According to the magazine, the words Kaabah and Solat are best described as Islamic theological terms and have no relevance to Christianity. These words are not used in Christian writings other than in those describing the meaning of those words.
It also mentioned that the word Baitullah means “House of God” and “its theological meanings are attributed to it according to the people of the various religious persuasions in the Middle East and Indonesia.”
However, the word has not been used in Malaysia.
Home Minister, Syed Hamid Albar lifts ban on Catholic weekly, then rescinds ban, said there was a mistake