Nazri dares Selangor to lift ban on ‘Allah’

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PETALING JAYA: The Pakatan Rakyat (PR) Selangor government should amend state Islamic enactments that prohibit the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims in the state to prove that it supports equal rights for all races, Umno’s Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said.

“Now they hold two-thirds majority (in the state) I would like to ask, since the ‘Allah’ issue is a very big issue, why is the word not allowed to be used in Selangor?

“So DAP should tell Azmin (Menteri Besar Azmin Ali) to amend the enactment. Get him to amend it. He is a liberal, is he not?” said Nazri, who is also Culture and Tourism minister, said.

The Selangor Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Among Muslims) Enactment 1988 bans non-Muslims from using 35 Arabic words and phrases, including “Allah”, the Arabic word for God, which has been at the centre of a major religious dispute between Muslims and Christians here.

“The Christians (in Selangor) can now push Azmin because he (and Pakatan) with a two-thirds majority can go and amend the enactment and pull out the section,” said Nazri after a function in Subang yesterday.

On Jan 2, 351 copies of the Bahasa Malaysia Bible (AlKitab) and the Iban-language Bible (Bup Kudus), which also contains the word “Allah” were seized from the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) bookshop in Damansara Utama here, by officers from the Selangor Religious Affairs Department (Jais) and the police.

BSM’s then president, Lee Min Choon, and the office manager Sinclair Wong were taken for police questioning and later released.

Jais had said the seizure was done in accordance with the Selangor Non-Islamic Religions Enactment 1988 which prohibits non-Muslims from using the Arabic word for “God”.

Jais and the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais) had refused to return the Bibles even after the Attorney-General said there was no basis to charge BSM as the Bibles were not a threat to national security.

The two religious bodies also defied orders by the Pakatan Rakyat-led state government under former menteri besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim to return the Bibles, saying the state administration could not interfere in how Jais and Mais manage Islamic affairs in the state.

After nine months of waiting, the 351 AlKitab and Bup Kudus were returned to Christians in Sarawak on November 14, through the Association of Churches in Sarawak (ACS) in a formal ceremony at the Selangor palace.

They were handed to Sarawak Christians and not to the Peninsular-based BSM as part of the condition that such material was not to be distributed in Selangor, a statement from Mais said. — The Malaysian Insider


This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on December 23, 2014.