Keep politics out, says Herald editor as Allah issue goes to court

(TMI) – In court tomorrow, the church’s stand is that the 10-point solution by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in April 2011, just before the Sarawak state elections, explicitly allowed Catholics to use the word “Allah”.

It was never meant to become a major national issue. Whether the Catholics will be able to use the word “Allah” to refer to their god in their weekly newspaper, Herald, will come up again in court tomorrow.

“This was about the weekly using the word ‘Allah’, it is not about Allah per se, but it has snowballed into something else now. We want politics out of this,” said the 68-year-old priest and editor of the Herald, Father Lawrence Andrew (pic).

He is not about to get his wish on that count.

The Malay rights group Perkasa, headed by leaders rebuffed at the general election, has already declared it will turn up tomorrow at the Palace of Justice in support of the government’s ban on the Herald’s use of the word.

In a statement on Monday, Perkasa called on other Muslims to join it at Putrajaya in great numbers tomorrow morning to “show support towards efforts in defending the word ‘Allah’ from being used and misused by other religious believers”.

So does the priest know what to expect tomorrow, both in court and with the likes of Perkasa supporters waiting outside?

“I leave it in the hands of God, what is there to fear,” Andrew said, with his hands clasped.

He added that this was the reason he had told Catholics who had offered to turn up in court to offer support to “stay back where you are and pray”.

Earlier, the Sikhs wanted to get involved in the case too as the word “Allah” is contained in their Holy Book.

But Andrew said the church requested for the Sikhs not to get into the court case as they did not want the matter to be blown out of context.

“We were just challenging the government because they threatened to withdraw the permit. We told the Sikhs getting too many parties into the case would not help the situation,” he explained.

In January 2008, the home ministry had approved the Herald’s publication permit, on condition that the usage of the word “Allah” was prohibited and the word “Limited” (Terhad) be endorsed on its front page to mean that it must be circulated only to Christians.