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Top Malaysian prelate shaken by court ruling against Christian use of 'Allah'

January 22, 2015

Archbishop Julian Leow Kim of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, has expressed keen disappointment at a court ruling that prohibits Christians from using the word “Allah” to identify God, saying that the decision has dire implications for religious freedom in the Asian nation.

Although he admitted that the decision was not surprising, the archbishop said that it could “open up a Pandora’s box,” allowing for greater government interference in the affairs of minority religions.

Christians in Malaysia have traditionally used the Arabic term “Allah” for “God.” But in the heavily Islamic country, Muslims objected that the use of the term was blasphemous.

Technically the court’s decision applies only to the Catholic newspaper, the Malaysia Herald, which had fought a regulation banning the use of “Allah.” Archbishop Leow said that he held out some hope that the ruling would apply narrowly to the newspaper, not curbing other aspects of Christian witness.

Meanwhile Father Lawrence Andrew, the editor of the Malaysia Herald, told the AsiaNews service that he feared the struggle for his weekly publication was lost. He said that he only hoped that “minority rights are not trampled on.”

 
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