Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews) - The Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Majlis Agama Islam Selangor, MAIS), which seized but never returned hundreds of Bibles despite a decision by the Attorney General in this sense, warned that it would continue to seize Christian documents that contain the word "Allah".
In an official statement, MAIS chairman Datuk Mohamad Adzib Mohd Isa noted that the Council had the right to destroy the sacred texts it seized from the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) already in its possession.
He claimed that it was his duty to counter the distribution of Christian literature in Selangor, one of the 13 states of Malaysia, and went on to threaten to arrest those who continue to spread the outlaw Christian material. "This process will go on and we will also make arrests," he said in a speech.
Adzib stressed that MAIS would not accept the decision of Attorney General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail in the seizure of the BSM Bibles, and would not return them to the BSM.
For the Attorney General, the Bibles did not represent a danger. Gani decided to close the case against BSM after finding the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (JAIS) had erred in the seizure of the Bibles.
MAIS refused instead to comply with Attorney General and the state government, insisting that it would get a court order to dispose of the holy books.
Recently, the Sultan of Selangor ordered the JAIS, which is holding the Bibles, to refer the matter to the prosecutor and the court to determine if the holy books should be returned.
Selangor Chief Minister (Menteri Besar) Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim, however, said no decision has been made yet on the return of the Bibles to the BSM, adding that they are waiting for advice on this from the Attorney General. He also quashed rumours that the Bibles seized had already been destroyed.
This year's anti-Christian attacks, including the seizure of Bibles, stem from the controversial ruling of an appeal court that bans the Malaysian Catholic weekly The Herald from using the word Allah.
Following the ruling, some officials at the Ministry of Interior blocked 2,000 copies of the magazine of the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur at the airport in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah state.
The seizure was "justified" by the need to verify whether the publication was "compliant" with the court order and "whether there was an unlawful use of the word Allah".
In Malaysia, a nation of more than 28 million people, mostly Muslims (60 per cent), Christians are the third largest religious group (after Buddhists) with more than 2.6 million members.
A Latin-Malay dictionary published 400 years ago shows that the word Allah was already in use to describe the Biblical God in the local language.