A court in Malaysia has ruled that no one but Muslims may use the word ‘Allah’ in reference to God.
The court panel ruled the word was “not an integral part of the faith and practice of Christianity,” and said it causes “confusion.” This overrules a 2009 court ruling on the same issue. (Via BBC)
But Christians argue they’ve used the word ‘Allah’ to refer to God because it’s part of the language Malay, and has been for centuries. Yes, it came to the language from Arabic, they say. But as one Christian woman told the BBC...
"If we are prohibited from using the word Allah then we have to re-translate the whole Bible ...”
Still, this ruling does not apply to the printing of Bibles. This all started years ago, when the government said a Catholic newspaper could not use ‘Allah’ in its Malay-language edition to describe God.
The newspaper sued, and won in 2009. But the case sparked major tension — both churches and mosques were attacked. The government appealed — and that appeal was held up Monday. (Via YouTube / EdgeTV1)
With this new ruling, the fear is that attacks will happen again. And the court battle isn’t over, the newspaper’s editor said they would now appeal. (Via PressTV)
The Wall Street Journal points out “religious identification is a highly charged issue in Malaysia,” ethnic Malays are Muslim by law there.
The outlet also says Malaysia’s prime minister has worked to get more support from Muslims in recent weeks in time for an important party assembly. Muslims argue it’s their duty to protect the sacred word.