[The Malaysian Insider]

State rulers in Malaysia have no power to suspend or deny the rights of non-Muslims to refer to God as Allah or their rights to religious freedom, which are guaranteed under the Federal Constitution, says constitutional law expert Dr Abdul Aziz Bari.

He said the laws are clear about the authority of the state rulers, just days after Selangor’s Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah reminded non-Muslims in the state not to refer to God as Allah, which was affirmed a month ago by an appeal court ruling.

“The powers of all the rulers must be seen within the context of the Federal Constitution. The authority of the rulers as heads of religion only applies to Muslims within their respective states,” Abdul Aziz told The Malaysian Insider.

“But the non-Muslims, even those who are residing in those states, are outside the jurisdiction of these rulers. Even with regard to Muslims, orders issued by the rulers are not absolute as they are subject to Islamic laws,” he added.

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