KOTA KINABALU, 1 March 2009: The home ministry has rescinded a government gazette that allowed conditional use of the word “Allah” in Christian publications with immediate effect.
Bernama reported on 28 Feb that Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar admitted there was a mistake in enacting the gazette that resulted in confusion over the word in question.
In the report, Syed Hamid said the government’s earlier decision to ban the use of the word ‘Allah’ in Herald, a Catholic weekly, remained in force until the court decided otherwise.
The government had recently ordered a ban on the Herald‘s Malay edition until the court makes its decision, as part of conditions for it to be allowed to continue publishing in English, Chinese and Tamil.
“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 made a mistake, I must admit that there is a need look at it thoroughly.
“As there was a mistake…so it is better we make a correction,” he was quoted as saying.
Syed Hamid was commenting on the call by the Malaysian Islamic Da’wah Foundation yesterday, urging the government to withdraw permission for the conditional use of the word “Allah” in Christian publications.
Its chairperson Datuk Mohd Nakhaie Ahmad said the government had not acted wisely in allowing the use of the word in Christian publications, which he said could anger Muslims not only in the country but also throughout the world.
A government gazette dated 16 Feb said documents and publications relating to Christianity containing the world “Allah” were prohibited unless the words “FOR CHRISTIANITY” was written on their front covers.
The condition was contained in an order titled “Internal Security (Prohibition on Use of Specific Words on Document and Publication) Order 2009”.
Paragraph 2(1) of the order reads: “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 with the words “FOR CHRISTIANITY”. — Bernama