JOHOR BAHRU: Johor’s Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar has backed the federal government’s decision to appeal against a court’s ruling to overturn a decades-old official ban and allow Christians in the country to use “Allah” to refer to God.

JOHOR BAHRU: Johor’s Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar has backed the federal government’s decision to appeal against a court’s ruling to overturn a decades-old official ban and allow Christians in the country to use “Allah” to refer to God.
Last week, the Kuala Lumpur High Court ruled that Christians can use “Allah” in religious publications for educational purposes, striking down a ban that dated back to 1986.
A judge ruled the ban was unconstitutional, as Malaysia’s constitution guarantees freedom of religion.
But the government lodged a challenge at the court of appeal saying it was “not satisfied” with the ruling
In a statement posted on his Facebook page on Thursday (Mar 18), the sultan said: “I call on the federal government to continue the appeal in these proceedings. In fact, I will direct the Johor Islamic Religious Council to take any necessary action and provide support for the appeal effort.” 
“The name ‘Allah’ is given by Him, and not derived from any root word, but a special term referring to Allah … the God worshiped by Muslims,” he wrote. 
The sultan, who is head of Islam in Johor, said that Muslim sensitivities, as well as the agreement of multiracial and multi-religious life should be considered in any ruling. 
The ruler said he was saddened by how the term “Allah” was used to refer to a god not worshipped by Muslims, as he feared it could spark controversy and create a bad impression on harmony among the people in Johor.
The sultan also cited a fatwa issued by the Johor state government in 2009, stating that the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims is  “not permitted, not allowed and prohibited”.
In Johor, we also have the Control and Restriction of the Development of Non-Muslim Religions Enactment 1991 which prohibits the use of words that are reserved exclusively for Muslims and cannot be used by non-Muslims except in circumstances where it is permitted by law, he said.
Malaysian authorities have long argued that allowing non-Muslims to use the word “Allah” could be confusing, and entice Muslims to convert.
The case in question began 13 years ago when officials seized religious materials in the local Malay language from a Christian woman at Kuala Lumpur airport that contained the word “Allah”.
The woman - Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill later filed for judicial review against the home minister and the Malaysian government. She also sought official recognition of her constitutional rights to practise her religion and non-discrimination under the relevant articles of the countrys constitution.
The High Court ruled in 2014 that the home ministry was wrong to seize the religious materials and ordered them to be returned to Ms Jill Ireland.
In 2015, the Court of Appeal sent the two constitutional issues back to the High Court to be heard. The case was heard by the High Court in 2017 but the announcement of the decision was deferred several times until Mar 10.