In bibles’ release, Perak Mufti sees Muslim fury

By Clara Chooi, The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, March 18 — Influential Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria has warned the release of the previously impounded 35,100 Malay-language bibles could lead to Malay anger and fearsome consequences.

He told The Malaysian Insider that he was “afraid” the community would rise in opposition of the ministry’s decision and create further tension in the already delicate situation.

“I am scared… everything can happen here. People are very unhappy and everything can happen,” he warned late yesterday.

The Muslim scholar said he had tried to establish contact with the prime minister upon hearing on Tuesday that the administration had relented to calls from Christian leaders to release the holy books, which were detained as they contained the word “Allah”.

“But I could not get through to him and his people could not offer me any information,” he said.

The Christian and Muslim religious communities have been engaged in a tug of war over the word “Allah”, with the latter group arguing that its use should be exclusive to them on the grounds as Islam is monotheistic and the word “Allah” denotes the Muslim God.

Christians, however, have argued that “Allah” is an Arabic word that has been used by those of other religious beliefs, including the Jews, in reference to God in many other parts of the world, notably in Arab nations and Indonesia.

The tussle is presently still trapped in the courts after the ministry won a stay of the 2009 High Court ruling that allowed Catholic weekly The Herald to use “Allah” in its Bahasa Malaysia edition.

Harussani said that regardless of whether the matter’s legal status, Muslims still believe “Allah” should stay exclusively theirs.

He told The Malaysian Insider that he will meet with the Attorney-General on March 25 to discuss the issue and attempt to convince the latter to stop the release of the bibles.

“I will also try to meet with the home minister and the prime minister. I will talk to them,” he said.

He added he had little choice in the matter as he was facing pressure from the Muslim community to attempt to stop the release.

“Since they announced the release, I have been receiving scores of SMS. Muslims are telling me how angry they are and they asked me, challenged me — what are you going to do about it?