Newly ordained Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur, Most Reverend Julian Leow said while he was disappointed with the ruling of the Federal Court, the decision was not totally unexpected.
“I would like to believe this adverse decision is confined only to the Herald and will not open a Pandora’s box on curbing the rights of minorities in managing our own religious affairs.
“In God we continue to pray and trust that there is light at the end of this tunnel,” he told The Malaysian Insider in a text message.
A five-man panel headed by Tan Sri Abdull Hamid Embong delivered a unanimous decision yesterday to deny the Catholic church’s application for a review of the apex court’s earlier ruling which did not grant it leave to appeal the ban on the use of the word “Allah” in Catholic weekly, Herald.
Church lawyer Datuk Dr Cyrus Das, however, had said that the Allah case was not quite over.
Instead, he was hopeful the issues central to the case, on freedom of religion, could be revisited through other similar cases in the future.
Das said yesterday that the merits of the church’s case over the Allah issue needed to be raised in other cases, especially on the home minister’s power to ban words.
“There are other constitutional issues that have not been addressed and this can be taken up in other cases, ” Das had said.
Herald editor, Rev Father Lawrence Andrew, acknowledging that the door is closed for this particular case, expressed hope that there would be an opening later to ventilate the issues relating to freedom to practise’s one faith as well as minority rights.
”This was an important constitutional case on the right to profess one’s faith and to live in peace in harmony.
“Now we hope to be able to work towards being able to live in peace and harmony and at the same time we pray that that the rights of the minorities will not be trampled upon.
“We also pray and hope there will be an opening later,” he added.
Today, a similar case involving Sarawakian Christian, Jill Ireland, who had her eight CDs containing the word “Allah” confiscated by the home ministry, will be heard at the Kuala Lumpur High Court.
The government is applying for a stay of a High Court order in July which ordered for the CDs to be returned to her.
In 2008, ministry officials confiscated the CDs from Ireland at the then Low-Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) in Sepang, prompting the Melanau Christian to challenge the seizure in court.
The CDs, which Ireland had bought in Indonesia for personal use, bore titles such as “Cara Hidup Dalam Kerajaan Allah”, “Hidup Benar Dalam Kerajaan Allah” and “Ibadah Yang Benar Dalam Kerajaan Allah”.
She also asked the court for a declaration that she had a legitimate expectation to exercise the right to use “Allah” and to continue to own and import such materials.
Ireland’s legal team had argued that the case was not about Christianity against Islam, but about her constitutional right as a Bumiputera Christian.
In her ruling, however, High Court judge Datuk Zaleha Yusof who had ordered the confiscated CDs to be returned, did not address Ireland’s constitutional right to use the word “Allah”.
As such, Ireland is also appealing against the High Court decision which failed to address the issue, to be heard at the Court of Appeal next month. – January 22, 2015.