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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

FT Islamic body not appealing intervening bid in Sabah church’s case

KUALA LUMPUR -The Federal Territories Islamic Religious Council (MAIWP) will not be appealing the appellate court’s decision to remove it from being party in the Sabah Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB) church's lawsuit over the use of the word “Allah”, its lawyer confirmed today.

MAIWP's lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla said he had notified the Kuala Lumpur High Court last Friday of his client's decision when a similar court case by Sarawakian Christian Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill relating to the word "Allah" came up for case management.

"On that particular day we already informed the court the Majlis (council) is not appealing," he told Malay Mail Online when contacted today.

When asked why MAIWP had decided against appealing the Court of Appeal's decision to disallow its intervener bid, Mohamed Haniff said it was his client's decision and declined to elaborate.

On September 30, the Court of Appeal unanimously decided that MAIWP should not be allowed to intervene in Sabah SIB's case, pointing out that the Attorney-General's involvement in the lawsuit was sufficient to safeguard public interest.

Besides saying that the law under which MAIWP was created does not grant it the powers to intervene in Sabah SIB's case, the Court of Appeal also said the Islamic body has no rights over non-Muslims.

The Court of Appeal however allowed MAIWP to contribute and assist the court as “amicus curiae”, or as friend of the court.

The church's lawsuit, which was filed almost nine years ago, has not been heard in court yet and will come up for case management on November 29.

The Kuala Lumpur High Court has fixed four days from next February 20 to hear the Sabah SIB case.

On December 10, 2007, the Sabah SIB church and its president, Rev Datuk Jerry WA Dusing, filed the lawsuit against the home minister and government over the seizure of three boxes of Malay-language Christian educational books that contained the word “Allah.”

The books for Christian children that SIB imported from Indonesia were seized at the former international budget airport terminal in Sepang on August 15, 2007 while in transit. They were later returned to the Sabah church on January 25, 2008.

With the return of the books, the church is currently seeking several declarations, including the declaration that it has the constitutional right under Article 11 of the Federal Constitution to use the Arabic word for God, “Allah”, in the Bahasa Malaysia and Bahasa Indonesia translations of the Christian bible, as well as in all other religious publications and materials.

The Christian Bumiputera communities in Sabah and Sarawak typically use Bahasa Malaysia in their holy scriptures and religious practices.

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