KUALA LUMPUR: The Government is calling for calm among Muslims and non-governmental organisations and asking everyone to respect the court’s decision over the use of the word Allah while it takes steps to appeal against the decision.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Maj-Jen (rtd) Datuk Jamil Khir Baharom said the groups should be patient and allow the matter to be resolved through the legal process.
“I will meet the NGOs soon to hear their views and to discuss the matter further with them,” he said in a statement yesterday.
On Thursday, the High Court allowed the Catholic weekly, Herald, to use the word Allah.
Judge Datuk Lau Bee Lian had ruled that use of the word was constitutional as long as the periodical was confined to educate the followers of the Christian faith.
Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the High Court’s decision must be governed by strict conditions.
He said that whatever justifications offered for the approval, it would not defuse the anger of Muslims in the country.
“This is because ‘God’ in other religions is translated as “Tuhan” in Bahasa Melayu or Arabic, not ‘Allah’.
“Allah specifically refers to God in Islam. If they understand that, they would use the word ‘Tuhan’, not ‘Allah’.
“I accept the term ‘Allah’ had been used in Sabah and Sarawak before the two states joined Malaysia but it is difficult to stop them from doing so now ... but in the peninsular, we have not heard of such practice,” he told reporters after presenting a keynote address at the Malay Undergraduates Convention at Universiti Malaysia Terengganu here today.
Dr Mahathir said what he was afraid of was that the term “Allah” might be used in such a way that could inflame the anger of Muslims.
“They may use it on banners or write something that might not reflect Islam,” he said.
Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor also called on Muslims in the country to remain calm.
He said the Government wanted to ensure that harmony among the multi-racial and multi-religious population was maintained as all costs.
“The Government has to abide by the decision. The only thing we can do now is wait for the relevant authorities to appeal against the decision, so please be patient,” he told reporters at the Putrajaya UPSR and PMR Excellent Achievement Awards here yesterday.
In George Town, the police said it would station personnel outside the High Court building here today following a planned demonstration by a Muslim non-governmental organisation.
State police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Wira Ayub Yaakob said his men would only move in if the demonstration turns chaotic.
“The protestors must know their limits,” he said. DCP Ayub said police had not received any application for the gathering so far.