Friday, March 25, 2011

Al-kitab 'solution' - it's in the intent, not the words

S K Teoh
Mar 25, 11

The latest announcement by Idris Jala to release the confiscated Al-kitab is a step forward to resolve the issue. Christians can show that they are reasonable yet remain firm in their stand that the Al-kitab is our scripture that is legitimate.

We have previously agreed to add the words 'Penerbitan Kristian' on the cover of the Al-kitab. This is better than 'Untuk Kristianiti', though the difference is not unacceptable.

The failure for any Umno minister to publicly support this step is still a worry that the recent action is only an interim action motivated by the coming Sarawak election. The Christian community can only be reassured if all Christian publications in Bahasa Malaysia with similar words 'Penerbitan Kristian' are allowed distribution (except with overt distribution to Muslims).

The government should then withdraw their appeal against the High Court's well-reasoned judgment that Christians have the right to use the term 'Allah' based on etymological, historical and constitutional grounds.

At least allow the High Court judgement to be implemented until the appeal is heard. State laws prohibiting the use of 'Allah' by Christians cannot surpass our constitutional right. Do they mean that non-Muslims cannot sing the state anthems where Allah is being mentioned?

Statements that government officers will obey the recent directive announced by Idris Jala are not reassuring enough as past promises even by prime ministers have been thwarted by the little Napoleons. That is why we are still facing this dilemma till today. Christians can only be reassured if the 1981 Act to place the Al-kitab as a controlled publication under the Internal Security Act be repealed.

In the meantime, the 35,000 copies of the Al-kitab which have been desecrated need to have the Home Ministry stamp removed, perhaps with the replacement of the covers.

That the additional costs will be borne by Christian donors again show the insincerity of the government as rightfully it should bear the costs of the damage caused by it.

Christians are not so concerned about words added on to the cover as to the intent (after all we also write notes on the pages).

Thus claims that the imported Koran may also have similar words added are not comparable as their intention is to authorise their copies as 'official' while the intent for the hasty Home Ministry's stamp on the Al-kitab is to 'control' their use.


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