Bible seizure issue to be resolved amicably: Malaysia

Malaysia said the issue of the seizure of 30,000 imported Malay language Bibles will be resolved amicably with the parties concerned.

Updated: Mar 13, 2011, 19:44 PM IST

Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia on Sunday said the
issue of the seizure of 30,000 imported Malay language Bibles
by the authorities will be resolved amicably with the parties
concerned, as angry Christians protested the move.

Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said the situation
was not due to the books or the material but the pending
appeal by a christian newsletter, "The Catholic Herald", over
the use of the word "Allah" in its publication.

"The appeal has yet to be heard by the court to
resolve the bigger issue of content one way or the other.

In respect of the Bibles from Port Klang and Kuching
Port, the ministry have since sought and obtained the advice
of the Attorney-General and the two matters are being resolved
amicably with the parties concerned, based on this advice in
the next few days," the minister said.

He urged all the parties not to listen to wild
allegations and speculations.

"As always, the ministry will act based on the law,"
he said.

Hishammuddin was commenting on the controversy over
the impounding of the Bibles following calls by the Sarawak
state government for the books to be released immediately.

A Christian group leader said authorities are
currently holding 30,000 Malay-language Bibles at a port on
Borneo island. This was one of the latest attempts by
Christians to import such Bibles, mainly from Indonesia, but
none has been successful since March 2009. There are no
similar problems with English-language texts.

Christians were "greatly disillusioned, fed up and
angered by the repeated detention of Bibles," the group said
in a statement.

"It would appear as if the authorities are waging a
continuous, surreptitious and systematic program against
Christians in Malaysia to deny them access to the Bible" in
the Malay language.

In 2009, the High Court had ruled that the Catholic
Church had the constitutional right to use the word "Allah"
while referring to God.

However, the ministry filed an appeal against the
High Court decision in February 2010 and won a stay, until the
case is dealt with by the Court of Appeal.

Hishammuddin assured Christians that the Bibles had
not been destroyed and that the matter was being resolved
rationally to avoid it turning into an "emotive and polemic"

Malaysia is a Muslim-majority country where minority
communities are also allowed to practice their religion.