Mahfuz: ‘Allah’ issue is Umno’s political diversion

By Adib Zalkapli, The Malaysian Insider

PAS vice-president Datuk Mahfuz Omar (left) entered into the raging debate over Catholic weekly Herald’s use of the word ‘Allah’ in its Bahasa Malaysia edition, saying it was an attempt by Umno to divert the people’s attention from other pressing issues.

The Pokok Sena MP said the heated discussion on the issue in the newspapers and online forums have distracted Malaysians from focusing on issues such as the stolen RMAF jet engines and the RM12.5 billion Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal.

“We can see clearly, the print media which comes under the control of the Home Ministry, led by Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and the electronic media continue to take advantage of the issue,” Mahfuz said in a statement released here today.

He also questioned why the Home Affairs Ministry did not appeal immediately against the High Court’s Dec 31 decision allowing the Herald to use the word ‘Allah’ to describe the Christian God.

“I believe when the debate gets out of control, when Umno is seen as the champion of Islam, an appeal will be made to reverse the high court’s decision,” Mahfuz noted.

“Umno will then proclaim itself as the defender of Islam,” he added.

Mahfuz also urged Muslims to remain calm, adding that their concern should also be addressed by formulating a guideline on the use of the word ‘Allah’.

“Most importantly, all Islamic institutions must strengthen their dakwah work to all Muslims to avoid the confusion that may be caused by the use of the word Allah

“I hope all Muslims and people of other faiths will not walk into the trap laid by Umno and BN,” he added.

The controversy first erupted early last year when the Roman Catholic church applied for a judicial review of the Home Ministry’s directive to not to use the word ‘Allah’ to refer to God  in Bahasa Malaysia in its publication.

The court’s decision last Thursday was followed by series of protests by Muslim groups across the country.

Both the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his deputy Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had urged the people to stay calm as the government will appeal against the decision. The PAS central committee is to meet tonight to formulate its official stand on the issue following differing opinions among some of its leaders.