SIB ruling a glimpse of far-reaching effects of ‘Allah’ judgement, say lawyers


(MM) – The High Court decision was in direct conflict with Putrajaya’s 10-point solution made in 2011.

The High Court’s basis for striking out Sabah Sidang Injil Borneo’s (SIB) lawsuit against the government shows that the landmark Court of Appeal ruling in the “Allah” case last year will have far reaching effects on the country’s Christians, lawyers said.

Lawyers for the Sabah SIB case and another similar case against the Home Ministry said the decision to adopt the Court of Appeal’s Allah ruling sets a worrying precedent of increasing state control over what the Christian community ― especially those who worship in Bahasa Malaysia ― can or cannot do.

Yesterday, the Kuala Lumpur High Court struck out Sabah SIB’s 2007 lawsuit against the Home Ministry for confiscating three boxes of Malay-language Christian publications that contained the word “Allah”.

The High Court said it was bound by the decision of the Court of Appeal, which ruled in October last year that the Arabic word “Allah” is not an integral part of the practice and faith of Christianity.

While the Court of Appeal decision prevented only the Catholic weekly, the Herald,from using the word, the latest decision demonstrates that the higher court’s ruling can be used more broadly.

“If it’s going to be very wide, they might go as far as saying ‘look here, you can’t even have your most important book’, which is the Al-Kitab which contains the word ‘Allah’,” said Annou Xavier who is representing Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill in her lawsuit against the government over a similar case as the Sabah SIB church.

He said the High Court decision was in direct conflict with Putrajaya’s 10-point solution made in 2011, which promised to give Christians in Sabah and Sarawak the freedom to continue to worship as they have for generations.

He said the government must make a strict policy decision on whether or not it will continue to uphold the 10-point plan and abide by it.

“The consequences are very far reaching and seems as though Christians purposely use the word when it is not owned by anyone. We have evidence to prove that Christians have used the word since 1629.

“In today’s case, it sounds like the 10-point plan is a non-starter… nothing on the 10-points was there,” Annou said.

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