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Allah ban upheld by Malaysian court: The Church of England Newspaper, October 24, 2013 October 27, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of South East Asia.
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A Malaysian Court of Appeal has forbidden a Catholic newspaper from using the word “Allah” to refer to God, ruling the use of the Arabic word for God was not a central tenet of the Christian faith.

On 14 October 2013 the three judge court of appeal overturned a 2009 Kuala Lumpur High Court ruling which rejected the Malaysian government’s ban against using the word “Allah” by the Herald, a Catholic newspaper published in Malay.

“Our common finding is that the usage of Allah is not an integral part of the Christian faith. We cannot find why the parties are so adamant on the usage of the word,” the court wrote last week.

Using “Allah” in a Malay language newspaper would confuse Muslims, the court said, and in the interest of public safety it granted the government’s appeal. “The welfare of an individual or group must yield to the interest of society at large,” wrote Justice Mohamed Apandi in his ruling.

Christian leaders reacted strongly to the verdict. The Primate of the Church of the Province of South East Asia, the Most Rev. Bolly Lapok, Bishop of Sarawak said Anglicans would continue to use the word “Allah”.

“For an outsider to say that the use of the word Allah is ‘not integral to the Christian faith’ is excessive, utterly irresponsible and grossly demeaning, to say the least. The Church does not need an apologist from outside to decree what is integral or not regarding her faith,” he said in a statement released after the decision was published.

“In fact, the ruling has far-reaching implications. It is not only insensitive to Christians in Sabah and Sarawak, but it is an insidious aberration to the spirit of Muhibbah (harmony), which the government has been so desperately trying to promote among all Malaysians. It is repugnant to the universal common sense.”

The government, however, was quick to assure Christians that the Allah ban applied only to the Herald and not to other Christian publications. The ban on the use of the word Allah only applies to the Catholic weekly, Herald, and not other Christian publications or the Al-Kitab, the Bahasa Malaysia bible which is widely used in Sabah and Sarawak, said Deputy Home Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.

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