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Malaysian court rules Christians cannot use 'Allah' to refer to God

Catholic World News - October 14, 2013

An appeals court in Malaysia has ruled that Christians cannot use the word “Allah.”

Reversing a lower court’s ruling from 2009, the Court of Appeals said that the word “Allah” can only be used by Muslims, although Christians in the Asian country have traditionally used the word to refer to God.

“The usage of the word ‘Allah’ is not an integral part of the faith in Christianity,” the Court of Appeals ruled, in arguing that a ban on use of the word by non-Muslims would not violate the religious freedom of the Christian minority.

Father Lawrence Andrew, the editor of the Malaysia Herald, told AsiaNews that the Catholic newspaper would appeal appeals court’s decision to the country’s federal court. The controversy over the use of “Allah” had begun when government authorities threatened to strip the Herald of its license to publish because the paper used that term. The Herald won an earlier court decision to continue publishing, but angry Muslims protested that decision and have continued pressing the government to enforce a ban on the use of “Allah” by non-Muslims.

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  • Posted by: Don Vicente - Oct. 14, 2013 10:38 PM ET USA

    Why does the Maylasian Church need to find another word? The Arabic word "Allah" ("the God") predates Islam. I have heard Eastern Catholics using it in liturgies in Israel. Why should we WILLINGLY abandon the common Arabic word for God? Next, we can abandon "Dios," "Gott," "Dieu" and even "God," since other non-Christian religions also use these terms.

  • Posted by: TheJournalist64 - Oct. 14, 2013 7:30 PM ET USA

    Some Christians believe--contrary to VCII--that Muslims are pagans and that their Allah is actually a moon god, just the only god they pray to. VCII taught that they pray to the same God we do, but deny the three persons. It looks like the Malaysian church needs to find another word.

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