Sedition Act against priest criticised

More than 80 police reports were lodged against Father Andrew who had said that the word Allah would continue to be used in Bahasa Malaysia services in churches in Selangor.

Malaysia
Jan 09 2014, 7:00 PM
Sedition Act against priest criticised
Father Lawrence Andrew, editor of the Herald, arriving with his lawyer to hear the government's appeal.

Criminal lawyers have questioned trial of Father Lawrence Andrew, editor of Catholic weekly Herald, under a sedition law which the state had vowed to repeal two years ago.

They expressed concern that a draconian legislation was being used on a Catholic priest forusing the word Allah in the weekly to denote God when Malay language bibles have been doing it for centuries.

More than 80 police reports were lodged against Father Andrew who had said that the word Allah would continue to be used in Bahasa Malaysia services in churches in Selangor.

Andrew recorded his statement at the Selangor police headquarters on Tuesday. His lawyer, Francis Pereira, said his client was being investigated under Section 4 of the Sedition Act.

Edmund Bon, a lawyer who has appeared in numerous sedition cases involving politicians, said there must be a genuine threat of violence for the provision to be applied. Malaysians were peace loving people and not many would resort to violence to find solutions to religious problems. "So using this law in the current tense atmosphere makes it worse."

Democratic Action Party (DAP) chairman from Selangor, Tony Pua, said the investigation smacked of double standards and pointed out that police had not taken any action against other religious leaders who made statements far more controversial, seditious and even dangerous.

Pua said that despite an outrageous religious edict on January 3 to justify violence and murder against peaceful protestors of an anti-price hike rally held on New Year’s Eve, Mualim religious leader Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria was not even investigated.

He cited similar compliance towards Perkasa leaders Datuk Zulkifli Nordin, who made fun of Hindu deities and questioned the purity of the Ganges River, and Datuk Ibrahim Ali, who incited masses to burn the Bible.

"No actions were taken against these individuals despite the severity of their 'sedition'," said Pua.

"On the other hand, Father Andrew was merely asserting the fact that 'Allah' has been used in the Malay language bibles for more than a hundred years in this land without controversy or restrictions. He was certainly not calling for bloodshed or inciting violence."

Source: Herald Malaysia

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