COUNCIL of Churches of Malaysia (CCM) Youth is disappointed and deeply regrets the Home Ministry’s lack of order and clarity in its handling of the restriction over the usage of “Allah”, involving the Bahasa Malaysia edition of the Roman Catholic Church’s publication Herald.
The lack of order and clarity is obvious from the earlier prohibition by the Home Ministry of the use of Bahasa Malaysia in Herald, which the Home Ministry later denied issuing.
Most recently, the Home Ministry gazetted an order allowing the conditional use of the word “Allah” by the Christian community, only to rescind it, suddenly, the following day.
These incidents portray a very disorganised and irresponsible handling of what is an extremely delicate matter. This not only serves to jeopardise our country’s image, but also undermines the government’s credibility both at home and abroad.
CCM wishes to point out that the Christian community in Malaysia has been using “Allah” in its worship for centuries. It is, therefore, unreasonable for such a usage to be prohibited and outlawed at this time.
CCM Youth is saddened and disappointed with the attitude of the Home Ministry, which has neither shown concern for nor made any effort to protect the rights and liberties of minority groups in Malaysia.
Claims that the use of the word “Allah” in Christian publications could anger Muslims not only in the country but also throughout the world are unfounded. For example, “Allah” is freely used by Christians in Egypt without any objection from the Muslims there.
We are confident that the Muslims here in Malaysia are mature, wise and open to mutual understanding in a multireligious setting. Such claims are, therefore, irresponsible threats that can incite religious violence, and must be stopped.
CCM Youth wishes to state, once again, that our national language, Bahasa Malaysia, belongs to all Malaysians. Christians of this country are citizens who also have the right to use it. The prohibition is, therefore, unjust and unjustifiable and is an act of open discrimination against Christians who are Malaysians and who speak Bahasa Malaysia.
CCM Youth urges the government of Malaysia to be more responsible, sincere and transparent in its handling of this issue and to stop this discrimination by the Home Ministry by withdrawing the restriction on the usage of “Allah”, for the sake of the freedom of religion of all Malaysians.
CCM Youth secretary
10 March 2009