SIB keen to resolve ‘Allah’ issue with Home Ministry
Saturday March 6, 2010, By LISA GOH, (firstname.lastname@example.org)
KUALA LUMPUR: The Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB) is keen to reach an out-of-court settlement with the Home Ministry over the use of the word “Allah” in its books on Christianity. Counsel for SIB, Bobby Chew, told reporters that High Court judge Justice Aziah Ali fixed April 30 in chambers yesterday, allowing the parties involved “to see if any settlement could be reached”.
“We are exploring the possibility of resolving the matter out of court. We have always been interested in that option,” he said yesterday. Representing the Home Ministry was senior federal counsel Azizah Nawawi.
SIB president Pastor Jerry Dusing filed the suit in December 2007 to contest the seizure of six boxes of Christian educational publications shipped from Indonesia by the Customs Depart-ment at the Low Cost Carrier Terminal in Sepang in August that year. It was reported that the Internal Security Ministry (now Home Ministry) had given SIB 14 days to return the publications to their point of origin in Indonesia, failing which, the officers would destroy them on grounds that the publications contained the word “Allah”. The ministry also sent to SIB an old circular dated Dec 5, 1986, which prohibited non-Muslim publications from using the word “Allah” in their works. However, the confiscated books were returned to the church on Jan 25, 2008.
SIB had filed the suit over two issues – the confiscation of the books, and the policy that no other religion could import books with the word “Allah”. The church is seeking a court order to quash the minister’s order prohibiting the importation of the Indonesian publications which were meant for SIB-run Sunday schools in Sabah. It is also seeking a declaration that it had the constitutional right to use the word “Allah” in the Bahasa Malaysia and Bahasa Indonesia translations of the Bible as well as in all religious publications and materials.
SIB is also seeking a declaration that its congregation – a majority of whom are Bahasa Malaysia speaking natives – is entitled to own, possess, use and import materials notwithstanding the use of the word “Allah” in those publications. Yesterday, Dusing said the ministry’s grounds that the word “Allah” in Christian books might cause confusion should not arise. “Christianity books we import would have to bear the mark of the cross on the cover, with a stamp stating ‘Christian publication’ on it,” he said.