Church group under probe for ‘Allah’ Facebook post

More than 60 per cent of the country’s Christians, believed to number just under 2.8 million, are Malay-speaking Bumiputeras from Sabah and Sarawak. 

(The Malay Mail) – An evangelical church group is now being investigated for posting a Facebook message urging Christians to pray for the blessings of “Allah”, a word still in the center of a tug-of-war battle that has been threatening religious harmony in multiracial Malaysia.

Selangor PAS commissioner Dr Abd Rani Osman confirmed with The Malay Mail Online yesterday that the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (JAIS) is investigating the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship of Malaysia (NECF), despite the state government’s earlier attempt at intervention.

“The state government proposed to take over to control the whole thing,” Rani said when approached on the sidelines of the Selangor state legislative assembly here.

“The state government doesn’t want to make this a big deal. But… according to JAIS, a complaint has been opened, so the investigation is on,” the Selangor PAS chief said.

Jalur Tiga (Jati), a group formed by former Selangor state lawmaker Datuk Hasan Ali who purports to champion Malay rights, had filed a police complaint against NECF on May 14, accusing the Christian group of attempting to convert Malays in a Facebook campaign.

“I saw the use of the word ‘Allah’in the picture was against the Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation amongst Muslims) Enactment 1988 and Article 11 of the Federal Constitution, which makes it an offence,” Jati treasurer Noor Azizan Abdul Majid had told reporters after filing his report at the Shah Alam district police headquarters on May 14.

Religious tensions have been long been simmering in Malaysia in recent years, with the latest controversy surrounding a proposed law on child conversions to Islam deepening divisions between the Muslim majority and religious minorities.

The Muslim Lawyers Society of Malaysia (PPPMM) accused NECF last month of committing “criminal” sacrilege against Islam by misappropriating the word “Allah” for their purposes, despite a landmark High Court ruling in 2009 that the Middle Eastern word was not “exclusive”to Islam.

The NECF said in a response last month that its Facebook prayer campaign, which is called Malaysia MyHome, was just meant for Christians.

The umbrella body representing Malaysia’s evangelical churches added that the Bahasa Malaysia version of the campaign contained the word “Allah” for the benefit of its East Malaysian Bumiputera congregation.

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