Malaysia

Cops recommend charging Herald editor at centre of ‘Allah’ row with sedition

There are more than 100 police reports lodged against Herald editor Father Lawrence Andrew for insisting that the Catholic church will use the word 'Allah' in its Bahasa Malaysia masses. – The Malaysian Insider pic, January 10, 2014.There are more than 100 police reports lodged against Herald editor Father Lawrence Andrew for insisting that the Catholic church will use the word 'Allah' in its Bahasa Malaysia masses. – The Malaysian Insider pic, January 10, 2014.Police have recommended that the editor of the Herald, Rev Father Lawrence Andrew, be charged with sedition for his remarks that churches in Selangor will continue using the word “Allah” in their Bahasa Malaysia masses.

However, the final decision on whether to charge the Catholic priest will be made by the Attorney General’s Chambers.

The Malaysian Insider learnt that police will be meeting senior public prosecutors at the AG's Chambers today to study the investigation papers before reaching a decision.

The investigation papers were sent back to the police on Wednesday and yesterday, police revisited several journalists with more questions.

The journalists, from the mainstream media and The Malaysian Insider news portal, were questioned and had their notes seized for further investigations.

It is learnt that 109 police reports had been lodged against Andrew.

Following the reports, police recorded statements from about 100 people, including Andrew and three TMI staff members.

Andrew had been reported by TMI as saying that churches in Selangor would continue using the word “Allah” during their Bahasa Malaysia services. 

This was after a decree by the sultan of Selangor that non-Muslims in the state were banned from using the word “Allah”.

Andrew, however, insisted that whatever he had said had been based on the Federal Constitution which guaranteed freedom for each religion to manage its own affairs.

His statement provoked outrage and anger from several Muslim groups, including those from Umno who demanded that the priest retract the statement.

Selangor Umno reportedly threatened to hold protests at churches in Selangor in retaliation to Andrew’s statement.

A church in Klang came under the spotlight on Sunday when it was reported that a protest might be held there. Instead, progressive Muslim groups and social activist Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir turned up to defend Christians.

Malay rights group Perkasa later criticised Marina, the daughter of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, for showing solidarity with Christians.

However, Marina defended her actions and said that Perkasa was "full of rubbish".

The situation took a turn for the worse on January 2 when the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (Jais), accompanied by police, raided the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) and seized more than 300 Bibles published in Bahasa Malaysia and Iban.

The raiding party also detained BSM chairman Lee Min Choon and office manager Sinclair Wong.

In October last year, the appellate court upheld the Home Ministry's ban on Herald, prohibiting the Catholic publication from using the word “Allah” in its Bahasa Malaysia edition. – January 10, 2014.

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