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Take stand on outlawed words, Penang told Print E-mail
Monday, 13 January 2014

New Straits Times

GEORGE TOWN: A state non-governmental organisation leader has urged the Penang government to state its stand on non-Muslims in the state being prohibited from using 40 words decreed as exclusive to Muslims.

Penang Malay Congress president Rahmad Isahak called on the state's Religious Affairs, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Committee chairman Datuk Abdul Malik Abul Kassim to voice the state government's stand on the matter.

"Do not keep mum about this. Do not wait to be challenged and then only you say something. Whatever the interpretation of the 40 words, I urge the state government to state its stand on this matter," Rahmad said yesterday.

Malik could not be reached for comment.

It was reported that "Solat", "Surau" and "Masjid" were words non-Muslims in Penang were prohibited from using in their writings, among the 40 decreed by the Penang mufti, as provided under subsection 48(3) and (4) of the Penang Islamic Religious Administration Enactment 2004, as exclusive to Muslims.

The other words were "Allah", "Firman Allah", "Ulama", "Hadith", "Ibadah", "Kaabah", "Qadhi'", "Illahi", "Wahyu", "Mubaligh", "Syariah", "Qiblat", "Haji", "Mufti", "Rasul", "Iman", "Dakwah", "Wali", "Fatwa", "Imam", "Nabi", "Sheikh", "Khutbah", "Tabligh", "Akhirat", "Azan", "Al Quran", "As Sunnah", "Auliya'", "Karamah", "Syahadah", "Baitullah", "Musolla", "Zakat Fitrah", "Hajjah", "Taqwa" and "Soleh".

The decree had been enforced on April 29, 2010.

However, no action has been taken against any individual or group since the law was enforced.

National DAP chairman Karpal Singh said it would certainly be in order for the Penang government to seek legal advice on the prohibition from using 40 words by the Penang mufti, before any non-Muslim was charged for use of the words prohibited.

Karpal said the prohibition of the words in the state, subject to a maximum RM3,000 fine, maximum two years' jail, or both, has far reaching implications and consequences.

Karpal cited senior lawyer Roger Tan's comments reported in an English daily yesterday, that "... no non-Muslim can be charged in a Syariah court".

"He has to be prosecuted in a civil court.

"If he is to be charged in a civil court, then only the attorney-general will have a say in the prosecution under Article 145(3) of the Federal Constitution.

"If he is charged or convicted or jailed by a Syariah court, then the non-Muslim offender is entitled to seek remedy from the civil court under section 25(2) and the Schedule of the Courts of Adjudicature Act 1964, which empowers the civil High Court to grant various orders, including the writs of habeas corpus and prohibition."

Several people were caught off guard with the latest development, with S. Ezekiel expressing his surprise.

"I am surprised that this has come up now. I have never heard of anything like this for the last 57 years since independence," the 61-year-old said when met by the New Straits Times.

Ezekiel said the words such as "Masjid, "Surau" and "Solat" were words used by everyone.

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