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A compromise solution for “Allah” usage

Malaysia is a multi-religious nation, a compromise solution is needed for this sensitive issue before the situation is out of control.

My proposals are

1. Allah can only be used by the Christian churches in East Malaysia.

2. Allah cannot be used by non-Muslims for whatever purpose in West Malaysia. For example, Allah in the state anthems has to be modified to Tuhan.

I wrote my posting on 9 Jan, and some UMNO politicians with brain finally see my proposal is only sensible way to resolve Allah dispute.

Govt okays ‘Allah’ for East Malaysian Christians

By Adib Zalkapli

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 15 – The government today said that it allows the use of the word “Allah” by East Malaysian Christians when referring to God in the Malay language.

The apparent concession is seen as a damage control move as Christians in the states of Sabah and Sarawak primarily conduct church services in the Malay language.

In an interview with a Kuching-based daily, The Borneo Post, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz (picture) said the word has been used traditionally in the two states and that the local Muslims are used to the practice.

The daily is circulated widely in the two Christian-majority states.

“Christians in Sarawak and Sabah need not worry over this issue because it is a common tradition there. I have been to an Iban church service and I heard the word “Allah” used there,” he reportedly said.

The “Allah” row started in 2007 after the Home Ministry invoked a 1986 Cabinet directive banning non-Muslims from using certain Arabic words when it refused to renew the publication permit of the Catholic tabloid, Herald.

The Catholic church later challenged the government’s decision and on Dec 31 last year, the Kuala Lumpur High Court ruled that the Herald has the right to use the word “Allah” for its Malay edition.

Another legal battle over the word “Allah” is also expected, as a Sarawakian Christian, Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill had earlier this week challenged the seizure of religious compact discs containing the word “Allah”, which took place in 2008 at the Sepang airport’s low cost carrier terminal.

Nazri’s pledge, which was front-paged by The Borneo Post today, comes just about one year before Sarawak is scheduled to have its state election.

The current state assembly’s term expires in mid-2011.

“Muslims here in Semenanjung cannot accept it as ‘Allah’ was never used in Christian preaching until recently and they questioned the motive behind the substitution of ‘Tuhan’ for ‘Allah’,” said Nazri in justifying the ban in the Peninsula.

“It is clearly stated in our constitution that no other religions can be propagated to Malay Muslims and this article has been enacted in all the states in Malaysia where the Sultan is the Head of State … so this excludes Federal Territory, Penang, Malacca, Sarawak and Sabah,” he added.

The daily also quoted Nazri to have said that the series of attacks against the houses of worship has proven that the government was right in its decision to restrict the use of the word.

“Banning the use of ‘Allah’ by Christians was a pre-emptive move to stop outbreaks of religious violence in the nation,” he reportedly said.

Nazri also drew a parallel between the “Allah” dispute and the ‘cow head protest’ in Shah Alam last year, against the relocation of a temple in the Selangor capital.

“Take for example, there is no law in the country that states stepping on a severed cow head is wrong but when a group of Malays did that in their protests against the building of a Hindu temple we hauled them up and charged them because that act was disrespectful to the Hindus,” he reportedly said.

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