In 1Malaysia, orang Asli Christians lost a two-year court battle seeking basic amenities at their village church.
The government lawyer,Kamal, said the judge made a brief reference to Sections 6 and 7 of the Aboriginal Peoples Act 1954, which supposedly gives the state authorities the power to gazette an area as “Aboriginal Land.”
“the state authorities are the ones to gazette if an area is [an] Orang Asli area.”
Controversy over the village church, which follows the popular East Malaysian Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB) denomination first erupted in 2003, Annou explained.
Some 70 Christians in Kampung Pasu had pooled together their money to build a small church in the backyard of village elder, Wet bin Ket — with his permission — in July of that year.
But within the same month, the Temerloh Land and District Office, better known by its Malay initials PTD, issued a letter warning that it regarded the church as encroaching on government land and demolished it three years later.
The Christian villagers complained to then Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi who subsequently compensated them RM35,000 to rebuild the church.
But their bid for water and electricity to be supplied to the rebuilt church was rejected by the PTD.
In a letter dated October 8, 2007, the PTD explained that the church should not be given water and electricity because it is an illegal structure built on ungazetted land and the church had no approval from the state government to be built, as is required under state law for non-Muslim places of worship.
Meanwhile, he home minister and the government filed a stay of execution today against the High Court ruling last Thursday which allowed the use of the word "Allah" in the Catholic weekly Herald.
The application was filed by Senior Federal Counsel Andi Razalijaya A. Dadi, representing the home minister and the goverment, at the High Court registry at about noon.
The application was filed together with a certificate of urgency for an early hearing date.
In Kuala Lumpur, 13 mostly Islamic-based NGOs on Jan. 3 filed a police report opposing the "Herald's" use of the word "Allah," while some 10,000 people have reportedly joined a Facebook group page to oppose the court decision.
Nik Aziz Nik Mat, spiritual leader of the PAS, part of the opposition alliance, however, said it is permissible for followers of Abrahamic faiths to use the term "Allah." He cautioned, however, that the term could be misused, and that Christian and Muslim leaders should engage in dialogue.
Earlier, Chandra Muzaffar, president of the Malaysia-based human rights organization Just International said that the word "Allah" was already in use before the time of Prophet Muhammad.
He added that Muslims have to recognize that some Christians use the term and that it also appears in the Sikhs' holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib.
However, "Allah" for Muslims has a certain meaning and notion -- that of pure monotheism, he explained. "When Muslims use the term they know what it means. (But) if others want to use the term and give it their own meaning, that's their business. We should be tolerant of this."
Should you be able to call your God whatever you want ?