Govt challenging High Court's 'Allah' verdict

KUALA LUMPUR: The government is appealing against the High Court's decision that allows Christians to use the word "Allah" in their religious publication for educational purposes.

The notice of appeal, signed by Senior Federal Counsel Shamsul Bolhassan, was filed at the High Court registry here Monday morning (March 15).

In the notice, it was stated that the Home Minister and the government were unsatisfied with the ruling and appealing to the appellate court against the entirety of the High Court's decision.

Solicitor-General Datuk Abdul Razak Musa confirmed the filing.

On March 10, Justice Nor Bee Ariffin, who is now a Court of Appeal judge, ruled that a 1986 Home Ministry's directive that the use of the words "Allah","Baitullah","Kaabah" and "solat" by non-Muslims was illegal and unconstitutional.

This follows the court's decision to allow a judicial review by a Christian woman of Melanau descent, Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill, to practice her constitutional rights of practising her religion.

The legal action by Jill Ireland had taken root some 13 years ago in 2008 when eight CDs she had brought in from Indonesia were confiscated by Customs officers at an airport in Sepang as they contained the word "Allah".

The titles of the CDs were "Cara Menggunakan Kunci Kerajaan Allah","Cara Hidup Dalam Kerajaan Allah","Ibadah Yang Benar Dalam Kerajaan Allah","Metode Pemuridan Kerajaan Allah","Pribadi Yang Bertumbuh Dalam Kerajaan Allah","Hidup Benar Dalam Kerajaan Allah","Pemerintahan Kerajaan Allah Dalam Hidup Kita" and "Rahasia Kerajaan Allah".

Jill Ireland then filed for a judicial review to challenge the seizure of the CDs as well as seeking declarations from the court that her constitutional rights were violated, among others.

In 2014, the High Court ordered the Home Ministry to return the CDs to her but did not address the constitutional points as it was bound by a Federal Court ruling.

The order to return the CDs to Lawrence Bill was upheld by the Court of Appeal the following year but she proceeded with her challenge on the Home Ministry's directive that resulted in the forfeiture.

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