Bible controversy in Selangor ends with the return of bibles by Islamic religious unit

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The 321 bibles seized from the Bible of Society of Malaysia (BSM) by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) have been handed over to the Association of Churches in Sarawak.

The Malay and Iban-language bibles were presented to the Bishop of Kuching, Reverend Datuk Bolly Lapok, in a simple ceremony in Klang on Friday.

The handing over was done in the presence of Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah and Mentri Besar Azmin Ali. Also present were Jais officials and leaders and representatives from the Christian community.

The handing over signals an end to the controversy that began in January this year when Jais raided BSM's premises in Damansara and seized the bibles on grounds that it contravened a 1988 Selangor enactment, which prevents non-Muslims from using the word "Allah".

Then BSM president Lee Min Choon and office manager Sinclair Wong were also detained during the raid, but were subsequently released on bail.

The case was referred to the Attorney-General's Chambers by the Selangor government.

In June, Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail declared the case closed and ordered Jais to return the seized bibles to BSM as they did not fall foul of the enactment.

However, the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais) did not agree with AG's decision to close the case, and refused to return the bibles.

It also said it would continue to seize bibles containing the word "Allah" and arrest those who distributed them.

The Selangor government, then helmed by Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, stepped in and adopted the AG's stance, stating that the seized bibles were not a national security issue.

Khalid referred the matter to the palace, with Sultan Sharafuddin ordering Mais and Jais to refer the matter to the court so it could decide whether the bibles should be returned or disposed.

Newly appointed Selangor Menteri Besar Azmin Ali met with both religious authorities earlier this month to seek a permanent resolution to the issue.

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