Allah lawsuit: Muslim Councils Rush to Intervene, Archbishop Objects

Comment: Amazing! So many Muslim Councils rushing to join the fray. Perhaps they are nervous about losing their case and seek assurance in numbers. It would have been so much simpler if people concerned just allow the two immediate parties involved in the suit to calmly and rationally argue their case. Surely it can’t be the case that 10+ Muslim councils are each presenting its own unique argument? Indeed, judging from eyewitness report describing the atmosphere at the court, It seems to me that some Muslim are more propelled by emotions than by rational and respectful argumentation.

More likely, and more disturbingly, the flood of applications, or rather the inflated crowd at the court is a show of force to intimidate the Catholic Church or the honorable judge.

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Eight interveners in Herald suit … and counting
Soon Li Tsin |Malaysiakini  9 July 2008

More interveners are expected to participate in the
MCPX Herald’s legal challenge against the government ban on the Catholic weekly in using the word ‘Allah’ in its Bahasa Malaysia section.

Kuala Lumpur High Court Judge Lau Bee Lan today heard counsels representing seven Islamic and one Sikh religious council expressing their vested interest in the case.

The appellate and special powers division judge proceeded to fix Nov 21 to give all interested intervening parties in the judicial review adequate time to respond to both the applicants and respondents.
She also agreed with Sulaiman Abdullah, who was representing the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Council, that it would be more convenient for the court to hear the applications from all the state Islamic religious councils concurrently.

The Herald’s counsel Porres Royan was equally in favour of the decision and stated that consistency is important for the Catholic newspaper in its pursuit for justice.

“We will need time to study the papers first and look closely so we can take proper instructions.

“My belief is that we have to be consistent that if we object to one, we object to all,” he surmised.
On March 19, applicant Titular Roman Catholic Archbishop of KL Murphy Pakiam (right) filed for a judicial review against the internal security minister (now home minister) and the government over an order that banned the Herald from using the word ‘Allah’ in its Bahasa Malaysia section.

The government believes the word is exclusive to Muslims and threatened to close down the newspaper if it defied the prohibition.

Archbishop Pakiam on behalf of the Herald is seeking the following declarations from the court:

* for the ministry to declare that its decision to prohibit the Herald from using the word ‘Allah’ in its publication is null and void; the Herald is entitled to use the word ‘Allah’ in the publication and that the word ‘Allah’ is not exclusive to the religion of Islam.

* to quash the ministry’s decision in prohibiting the Herald from using the word ‘Allah’ in its publication.

* an order for the Herald to continue using ‘Allah’ in its publication until the court decides on the matter.

The Herald, which publishes news and information for Catholics in Malaysia in four languages – English, Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese and Tamil – has a circulation of around 12,000.

Porres was assisted by Leonard Teoh, Annou Xavier and Derek Fernandez while the government was represented by senior federal counsel Azizah Haji Nawawi and Nizam Zakaria.

New parties

The counsels for the state Islamic religious councils were Mubashir Mansor (Perak), Abdul Rahim Sinwan (Terengganu and Penang), Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar (Federal Territories), Muhammad Haniff Khatri Abdullah and Abdul Halim Bahari (Selangor and Kedah), Rozreen Wan Ramli and Ikbal Abd Salam (Johor).

They are seeking to intervene on grounds of being responsible for the administration of Islam and Islamic laws in their respective states.

The religious councils want to prevent any confusion that may threaten public peace or provoke religious sensitivities.

Appearing for the Malaysian Gurdwaras Council are Jagjit Singh, Joginder Singh and Balwant Singh Sidhu.

Their basis for intervening according to their affidavit filed by council president Jagir Singh is that “any prohibition on the usage of the word ‘Allah’ would mean Sikhs are not able to freely profess and practice their religion”.

The word ‘Allah’ appears in the Sikh holy book, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji more than 40 times.

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THE STAR Thursday July 10, 2008
Archbishop objects to intervention in suit

KUALA LUMPUR: The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur is objecting to the applications made by various parties, mostly Islamic religious councils, to intervene in a suit over the word “Allah.”

Porres P. Royan, counsel for the archbishop, said this stand would apply to all the intervention applications filed, including one by the Malaysian Gurdwaras Council (MGC).

However, the lawyer qualified this by saying he would still have to seek instructions from his client before responding to the affidavits filed by MGC in its application to take part in the suit,

Other bodies that had sought to be parties to the judicial review application by the archbishop against the Internal Security Minister (now Home Minister) and the Government are the Islamic religious councils for the states of Penang, Terengganu, Perak, Federal Territories, Selangor and Kedah.

The Johor Islamic Religious Council also filed an application to intervene in the matter yesterday when the case was mentioned at the appellate and special powers division of the High Court here.

During the proceedings, Justice Lau Bee Lan allowed the Perak Islamic Religious and Malay Custom Council to withdraw its application.

Its counsel Mubashir Mansor informed the court that the council would file a fresh application before the next hearing date, which was fixed for Nov 21 when the judge would hear all the intervention applications.

Senior Federal Counsel Azizah Nawawi informed the court that the main respondents in the case – the minister and the Government – would only put in affidavits after the intervention applications had been disposed of.

Justice Lau ruled that the interveners only needed to reply to the main parties of the suit.

In the suit, the archbishop is seeking to quash the decision of the Internal Security Minister in a letter dated Feb 12, which imposed conditions on the publishing permit of The Herald, a Catholic weekly. Among the conditions was a prohibition on the use of the word “Allah.”

Apart from this application, the archbishop had also filed another civil suit seeking, among others, to declare that the word “Allah” is not exclusive to the religion of Islam.

This suit is still pending.

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