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Allah issue 'clearly not about faith'

The by-election in Kajang, Selangor, next month looks set to heat up with opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and his opponent Zaid Ibrahim working the ground over the weekend.

Mr Anwar Ibrahim spoke at the church of the Holy Family in Kajang yesterday.

Parish priest Father George Harrison welcomed Mr Anwar, giving him the floor. Mr Anwar addressed the 1,200-strong crowd for 25 minutes, covering various issues, reported liberal news portal The Malaysian Insider.

When a member of the audience asked Mr Anwar about his stand on the rights of Malay-speaking Christians to use the word Allah, he said international Muslim scholars thought it was a subject unworthy of debate.

"When I asked an international scholar about it, he asked me what kind of question that was," Mr Anwar said. "I told him it was Umno's question, so he explained that Muslims recite five times a day, 'Praise be to Allah, Lord of Heaven and Earth.'

"So, if Allah is Lord for the entire universe, how can there be limitations?"

ALLAH ISSUE

He also stressed that for Umno, the Allah issue was clearly not about faith.

"If it was, then their stand must be binding on all. But in this case, they are saying Sabah and Sarawak can use the word, but not in the peninsula," he said.

The Malaysian Court of Appeal had ruled in October that the Catholic weekly Herald Malaysia Online could not use the word Allah in its publication. The church is appealing against the decision.

Incumbent Selangor Mentri Besar Khalid Ibrahim found support for his continued leadership in Mr Zaid Ibrahim, who announced his candidacy as an independent for the March 23 by-election, reported Malaysia's The Star.

Mr Zaid, a former Umno leader who had also joined and then left Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), said his decision to stand against Mr Anwar was aimed at defending "principled politics" and the mandate given to Mr Khalid and his administration.

He said that Mr Anwar's attempt at ousting Mr Khalid through political coup d'etat was dangerous, adding: "There is a real risk that misuse of political position by Anwar to take power from Khalid will tear Pakatan apart."