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Malaysian high court: Catholic newspaper cannot use 'Allah' for God

Catholic World News - June 23, 2014

Malaysia’s top court has confirmed a government ban on the use of the term “Allah” by a Catholic newspaper.

The long-awaited ruling, reversing an appeals court decision in favor of the Church, might conclude a legal battle that began in 2009. The Catholic newspaper, The Herald, had challenged a policy instituted by the Malaysian government that forbade the use of “Allah” by non-Muslims.

Father Lawrence Andrew, the editor of The Herald, told the Fides news service that he is “disappointed and sorry for a verdict that violates the fundamental rights of minorities.” Bishop Paul Tan of Malacca-Johor, the president of the Malaysian bishops’ conference, lamented: “The judges were not impartial.”

Christian leaders in Malaysia, while expressing regret at the ruling and concern about the implications, observed that the high court’s decision technically applies only to The Herald. At least for the moment, Christians in Malaysia will still be allowed to use the term “Allah” in their Bibles and to make reference to “Allah” in public worship.

In Malaysia, Christians use the term “Allah” to refer to God.

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