Malaysia

Sarawak Christian sends letters of demand to A-G seeking return of ‘Allah’ CDs

Annou Xavier (left) has sent two letters on behalf of Sarawakian Jill Ireland to the Attorney-General's Chambers demanding the return of her eight ‘Allah’ CDs. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, August 28, 2014.Annou Xavier (left) has sent two letters on behalf of Sarawakian Jill Ireland to the Attorney-General's Chambers demanding the return of her eight ‘Allah’ CDs. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, August 28, 2014.Six years after being confiscated from her, there is still no sign of Sarawakian Jill Ireland's eight "Allah" CDs despite a High Court ruling last month ordering the authorities to return the religious CDs to her.

Ireland's lawyer Annou Xavier had sent a letter of demand to the Attorney-General's Chambers more than two weeks ago, requesting that the CDs be returned, but there had been no response.

Annou said as there had been no response, he sent another letter of demand a week later.

"We will continue to push for the CDs to be returned as the Home Ministry has yet to comply with the court order," he told The Malaysian Insider.

On July 21, High Court judge Datuk Zaleha Yusoff, in ordering that the CDs be returned, ruled that only the home minister and not any senior authorised officer had the power to issue binding or permanent seizure orders on any material deemed as a threat to public order.

Putrajaya has filed an appeal against the High Court’s ruling.

Last week, Annou had also filed an appeal against the same court decision which had failed to address the issue of Ireland's constitutional right to use the word "Allah" as the court had only ordered that the CDs confiscated from her be returned.

On May 11, 2008, officials had seized eight Christian CDs from Ireland at the Low-Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT),  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".

In August 2008, Ireland had filed for a judicial review of the ministry's action and a return of the CDs.

She had also asked for a declaration that she had the right to use "Allah" and to continue to own and import such materials.

The failure to return the CDs is reminiscent of the case of the 321 Malay and Iban Bibles seized by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) earlier this year which have yet to be returned to the Bible Society of Malaysia, despite orders to do so.

The Bibles were seized on January 2, where Jais had claimed that it was enforcing a 1988 Selangor enactment which banned the use of the word “Allah”, among other words, by non-Muslims.

However, on June 11, Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail had said that there was no case against BSM under Section 9 of the enactment which was originally supposed to prevent non-Muslims from proselytising to Muslims.

Gani had said that Jais had erred in the raid and ordered the case closed.

But Jais and its superiors in the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais) had disagreed and refused to return the Bibles.

The Selangor religious authorities, who answer to the Sultan of Selangor, argued that there was still a case against BSM.

Mais had also said that they were asking the deputy public prosecutor to seek a court ruling to dispose of the Bibles.

Following this, BSM president Bishop Datuk Ng Moon Hing had said that it was "absolutely unacceptable" for the Islamic authorities to speak in such a manner given the fact that Bibles were not subversive documents.

"Bibles are religious books of the Christians. Under what civil law do they purport to have the authority to even suggest such an act?" Ng had asked.

He had then urged the authorities to return the Bibles given the A-G's announcement that BSM had not committed any offence, but until today, the fate or location of the Bibles are not known. – August 28, 2014.

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