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Wednesday October 16, 2013 MYT 11:11:00 PM
Wednesday October 16, 2013 MYT 11:22:07 PM
by patrick lee
Malaysian Bar Council president Christopher Leong.
PETALING JAYA: The Bar Council disputed the Court of Appeal's Monday ruling on the "Allah" issue, adding that it was "deeply concerned" with the decision to stop Catholic weekly The Herald from using the word.
Chief among these, Bar Council president Christopher Leong said, were the Court's interpretation of the Federal Constitution where Islam and other religions here and the freedom to practice them were concerned.
"Any interpretation of the Constitution must invite the greatest scrutiny as it impacts on the fundamental freedoms guaranteed to all citizens," he said in a statement Wednesday.
He said the Court practiced an "unnatural reading" of the Constitution when it viewed the term "in peace and harmony" (under the use of other religions) as protecting the sanctity of Islam and insulating it against any threat.
Instead, Leong said the Constitution clearly referred to the right of other religions to be practiced and to be free from threats.
He said it was also unreasonable to find that the word "Allah" in the Malay version of The Herald could confuse Muslims here.
Leong said that the word "Allah" was in fact used by more than one community in Malaysia, and by different faiths across the Arab world and other Muslim countries.
"Rather, the effect of the decision would be to encourage a perpetual state of confusion or ignorance as justifiable grounds for denying the rights of others," he said.
Leong said the ruling also reinforced the idea that the threat of violence could "win the day in court".
He said it was unacceptable that citizens were denied their constitutional rights to religious freedom because there were some who would resort to aggression.
Instead of being interpreted to allow threats of violence, Leong said that the law should be used to stop those who would resort to such acts.
Finally, he disputed the Court's "quick research" statement that supposedly found the word not being an integral part of Christian practice or the faith.
He said the onus was on a party asserting exclusive rights to the word "Allah" to establish those rights, rather than for others to prove that the word was integral to their faith.
Leong added that by most accounts, there was no prohibition on the use of the word by people of different faiths in the Arab world and other countries.
"It is difficult to discern how we are able to declare exclusivity of a word over which we do not have proprietary rights," he said.
Tags / Keywords:
Courts, Allah, The Herald, Bar Council, Christopher Leong, Federal Constitution
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