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KUALA LUMPUR Astro’s decision to censor the word “Allah” from a Hindi song shown on its Zee Variasi channel was not taken because of any directive from the government, said Communications and Multimedia Content Forum of Malaysia (CMCF) Executive Director Mohd Mustaffa Fazil Mohd Abdan, Mustaffa said Astro, as a member of CMCF, took the action “at its discretion and it may have relied on relevant provisions of the Content Code as its guide to execute such action”. He said, “CMCF, through usage of the Content Code, encouraged its members to conduct its own risk management.” The Content Code, he said, “is regarded as approved minimum standards for practitioners to benchmark their creative works and conduct to be within the code’s acceptable parameters”. He added that “there is no specific provision in the Content Code regarding usage of the word ‘Allah’”. Mustaffa suggested that Astro could have taken the decision to censor the word “Allah” based on its own interpretation of the provisions under the Religious Content section of the code. It is stated in the code that “all religious programming on Islam must be approved by the relevant religious authorities prior to transmission”. Sheikh Raffie Abdul Rahman, Head of Department for Strategic Communications for the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), said, “(media entities) have to take a holistic approach when it comes to evaluating their programmes”. While MCMC has no part in Astro’s censorship process, Raffie said he was told the decision was taken as “the song equates the Hindu god with ‘Allah’ as being one God, one faith”. CMCF, the code’s regulator, operates under the umbrella of MCMC while the Content Code is a registered document with the MCMC. The censoring of the word “Allah” from the song Ek Tu Hi Bharosa was brought to light by a viewer of the film Pukar which featured the song. The viewer alleged that the word “Allah” was omitted in the lines he ishwar ya Allah yeh pukaar sun le (God, Allah, listen to this cry) and he ishwar ya Allah he daata (Oh God, Allah, supreme being). Earlier, a spokesman for Astro told The Rakyat Post that as a licensed and responsible broadcaster, the company had to comply with certain content codes and guidelines when it came to this sort of issues.

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