States have no power to ban non-Muslims from using ‘Allah’, says law expert

i967.photobucket.com_albums_ae159_Malaysia-Today_Mug shots_ShadSaleemFaruqi_zpse18f537e

(TMI) – Another prominent constitutional law expert has spoken out against the ban on a non-Muslim’s use of the word “Allah” and a number of Arabic terms by certain states, saying it is clearly against Malaysia’s highest law.

Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi, of Universiti Teknologi Mara’s law faculty, said that state legislatures do not have a “blank cheque” to ban anything it does not like.

“They can only ban what the Constitution allows them to ban… To ban the use of Allah under all circumstances is clearly unconstitutional,” Shad Saleem said at a discussion organised by human rights group Proham in Petaling Jaya, last night.

State legislatures, such as the one in Selangor which passed a 1988 enactment forbidding non-Muslims from using a list of 25 words, are also restricted by the Federal Constitution.

Shad Saleem is the latest in a line of law experts who have criticised moves by states such as Selangor, which has banned, among others, the terms “Allah”, “nabi”, “kitab” and “Kaabah” from being used by non-Muslims.

Ostensibly, the enactments was to prevent propagation of other religions to Muslims. But on January 2, Selangor’s Islamic department Jais raided the Bible Society of Malaysia and carted off 300 Bahasa Indonesia Bibles.

The department justified the raid on grounds that it was implementing the 1988 enactment.

Other commentators have pointed out the enactment only applies to acts of propagation to Muslims. They point out that Bibles sitting in a room does not qualify as propagation.

Read more here