The Malaysian government conceded yesterday (23 July) that Jill Ireland has rightful ownership of eight Christian CDs confiscated from her seven years ago at a Kuala Lumpur airport because they contained the song titles used the word ‘Allah’ to refer to ‘God’.
On 23 June, the Appeal Court ordered the government to return Ireland’s CDs, purchased during a visit to Indonesia in 2008, within a month.
If the authorities intended to challenge that ruling, it had to file leave for appeal by 23 July in the Federal Court, the highest legal body in the land.
However, a senior counsel for the government, Shamsul Bolhassan, confirmed that it would not dispute the Appeal Court’s verdict.
Besides the legal battle to retrieve her CDs, Ireland, a Christian from Sarawak state, had also asked the courts to uphold her right to use the word ‘Allah’ for God, as it was her religious prerogative under the Federal Constitution which guarantees freedom of worship.
Senior counsel Bolhassan said that her case would now be heard before another High Court judge.
Ireland’s petition that she would be guaranteed equality before the law comes amid controversial decisions by the government and Islamic organisations, which insist the word ‘Allah’ is the exclusive copyright of Malay-Muslims, the dominant religious and racial group in the multiracial nation, once celebrated for its inter-ethnic harmony.