Malaysia’s High Court has ordered the return to a Sarawak woman of eight Christian CDs which had the word “Allah” in the title, which were confiscated in May 2008.
The woman, Jill Ireland, tried to bring them into the country from Indonesia. She then challenged their seizure at the airport on grounds of the apparent ban on Malay Christians’ use of the word ‘Allah’ for God, when it has been in the Malay language for over a hundred years.
She has also asked for a declaration that she has a legitimate expectation to exercise the right to use “Allah”, and to continue to own and import such materials.
The decision on July 21 does not give any more clarity over the June 23 ruling by a federal court that it would not grant the appeal by the Catholic Herald magazine against the Oct 2013 decision that it could NOT use ‘Allah’, since this word is only for Muslims.
Immediately after the June verdict, the Malaysian Government declared that Christians, who form about 10% of the mainly Malay-Muslim population of 30 million, could still use the word Allah in church, since the ban only applied to the Herald. The decision over the CDs appears to be in line with that, but it still leaves Christians confused and uncertain as to what is allowed and what is not.