Attorney-General’s Chambers defends decision on bible threat

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PUTRAJAYA: The Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) finally broke its silence yesterday on its decision not to charge Datuk Ibrahim Ali for his call to burn bibles with the word “Allah”.

The AGC said Ibrahim’s call for bibles to be burned must be viewed in its entire context, adding that the Perkasa chief’s statement was aimed at the bibles distributed to Muslim students of SMK Jelutong in Penang.

“As decided by the court, before a statement is said to have seditious tendencies the statement must be viewed in the context it was made ... When studied in its entire context, Datuk Ibrahim’s statement is not categorised as having seditious tendencies.

“It was clear Datuk Ibrahim Ali had no intention to create religious tensions, but was only defending the purity of Islam,” the statement said.

The AGC stressed that the bibles distributed outside the school could have threatened the faith of Muslim students if they had read the holy books.

“The open distribution of free bibles outside SMK Jelutong would have threatened the faith of the Muslim students who have a weak understanding of their religion if they had read the bibles, especially since it was written in Jawi.”

The AGC also pointed to a portion of Ibrahim’s statement during that press conference, where he had said: “This is not a sentiment or [an attempt] to provoke religious tensions, but to defend the purity of Islam which is clearly [stated] in the laws.”

The AGC added that Ibrahim could not be charged under Section 504 of the Penal Code, either, as he had no intention of insulting or provoking to the point that it could threaten public peace.

“He also did not commit any offence under Section 298 or 298A of the Penal Code as he was clearly defending the purity of Islam.”

The AGC also confirmed that the bibles were distributed outside the school last year, but said it had decided to close the case because there was no proof that the religious texts were meant for Malay students alone.

“What happened was that anyone could take the bibles from the suspects. The investigations revealed the suspects had no intention of distributing it to Malay students alone. Hence, the element in Section 298 of the Penal Code and the Syariah Criminal Offences (State of Penang) Enactment 1996 was not fulfilled.” — The Malaysian Insider

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on October 28, 2014.