PUTRAJAYA, Jan 6 -- The Home Ministry will allow a public demonstration against the "Allah" ruling, planned by Muslim groups this Friday at the Kampung Baru mosque here, to proceed and will only take action if "things get out of hand."
Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein Onn told a press conference here at a post-Cabinet meeting that the developments will be monitored and that action will only be taken if the need arises.
"There is a balance that needs to be addressed. We (the Home Ministry) have faced this situation before. Right now, if you do not allow the protest, it will cause a lot of emotional reaction. But if you also allow it, it might turn into a security threat," explained Hishammuddin.
The Home Minister asserted that the core issue was the issue of safety of the country, and that the group had already been advised against the protest.
"Everyone's been appealing to them. No one, from the government to the opposition, wants this whole thing to get out of hand.
"As long as it does not affect national security, we will not stop it yet. We plan to get closer to the would-be demonstrators and try to talk to them first."
When asked whether the crisis surrounding the use of the word "Allah" by the Catholic church through its Herald publication had been discussed in today's Cabinet meeting, Hishammuddin said that it had been brought up, but the Cabinet has decided to leave the matter to the Court of Appeal.
"Right now, the stay of execution has been granted... this is the normal process in line with the appeal we have filed. As the issue is right now being discussed in court, the Cabinet leaves it to the court to decide," he said.
The Home Minister added that sensitive issues pertaining to race and religion needed to be handled with wisdom and intelligence, and that only leaders with no "ulterior motives" could ensure that the right decisions be made on the matter.
"Don't play around with the issue of race and religion. These have always been sensitive issues that can threaten the harmonious balance of the country. Only an honest leadership will put the country's interest above his own."
The High Court on Dec 31 allowed the Catholic publication Herald to use the word "Allah" in its weekly publication.
This move has resulted in an uproar among some Muslims in the country, with some threatening to take their dissatisfaction to the streets this Friday.
The Home Ministry had filed for an appeal against the High Court's decision on Monday, and for a stay of execution of the ruling.
Today, the High Court granted the stay.
Judge Datuk Lau Bee Lan made the decision in chambers after both lawyers for the government and the church came to a consensus to freeze the decision of the case to be settled in the Court of Appeal. (By SHAZWAN MUSTAFA KAMAL/The Malaysian Insider)