Malaysia’s (highest) Court of Appeal, which today (23 April) heard an appeal by a Christian for the right to use the word ‘Allah’ for God, has not been able to agree a decision. Its three judges did not give a reason for their delayed judgment.
Jill Ireland’s lawyer argued that she has a right under the Constitution to practise her freedom of religion. She is from Sarawak, East Malaysia which is 42 per cent Christian: in her Malay language, ‘Allah’ has been used by Christians for over 100 years.
Ireland has been fighting the Malay government after it confiscated from her eight CDs in 2008. Last month she won her case against the capital Kuala Lumpur’s Islamic Council being allowed to have its say in her case.
It has been going through the courts at the same time as a much more high-profile case over the right of the ‘Herald’ Catholic weekly paper to use the word ‘Allah’ for ‘God’.
However, its editor, Rev. Lawrence Andrew lost a seven-year legal battle on Jan. 21, when the Federal Court finally ruled he can no longer call God ‘Allah’ in his publication. In that ruling, the Federal Court agreed with the government that the use of ‘Allah’ in the Herald would confuse Muslim Malays and therefore adversely promote the Christian faith among them.