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Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Herald's 'Allah' issue case adjourned to March 14

The Court of Appeal has postponed the Catholic weekly The Herald‘s case on the Allah issue to March 14 for case management.
Lawyer Derek Fernandez told Malaysiakini it was done yesterday at the request of the Attorney-General's Chambers, which is appearing for the Home Ministry and government.
The case had been scheduled for case management yesterday, after more then three years of being confined to legal limbo.
NONEThis was the result of Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Justice Lau Bee Lan'slandmark decision, declaring as illegal the Putrajaya's blanket ban on the use of the word 'Allah' in The Heraldfor its Bahasa Malaysia publication specially catering for the people in Sabah and Sarawak.

Justice Lau handed down her decision on the last day of 2009, and allowed the matter to remain status quo pending an appeal when attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail stepped into the fray. 

In declaring the home minister's decision as "illegal, null and void", Justice Lau said The Herald can use the word 'Allah' and that the term is not exclusive to Islam.

"Even though Islam is the official religion, it does not empower the respondents to prohibit the use of the word," she ruled.

The case for adjournment
Malaysiakini had reported on Sunday that The Herald case could be heard after the general election despite the matter being fixed for case management. 

The general feeling is should the superior courts rule against the magazine and the Catholic Church prior to the polls, it may spark severe negative reaction, particularly from the Sabah and Sarawak electorate.

An end to the judicial review application may eventually be decided  by the Federal Court, the highest in the country.

endon funeral 201005 murphy pakiamThe case was filed by the Catholic Church led by Archbishop Murphy Pakiam (right) and Father Lawrence Andrew, on Feb 16, 2009, naming the Home Ministry and the government as respondents in the judicial review application.

They were seeking, among others, a declaration that the decision by the respondents on Jan 7, 2009, prohibiting the use of the word ‘Allah' in The Herald - the Catholic Weekly publication - is illegal and that the word ‘Allah' is not exclusive to the religion of Islam.

The  weekly, published in four languages, has been using the word 'Allah' as a translation for 'God' in its Malay-language section, but the government argued 'Allah' should be used exclusively only by Muslims.

The term 'Allah' is widely used among indigenous Christian tribes in Sabah and Sarawak, most of whom speak Bahasa Malaysia.

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