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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

3/7/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (

Ban on non-Muslim use of word still in effect.

Tensions are mounting in Malaysia over recent decisions by two of the countries courts over non-Muslim use of the word "Allah," which is the Arabic word for God.

A Muslim wearing a shirt in support of the ban on non-Muslim use of the Arabic word for God.

A Muslim wearing a shirt in support of the ban on non-Muslim use of the Arabic word for God.


By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (

3/7/2014 (1 year ago)

Published in Asia Pacific

Keywords: Malaysia, Islam, Asia

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - On March 5, a crowd of hundreds of Muslims demonstrated outside of one of Malaysia's highest courts in Putrajaya as a seven-judge panel decided to delay its decision on having a full hearing on the Catholic church's challenge over a lower court's verdict that non-Muslims may not use the word.

In October of 2013, an appeals court decided to ban the Herald, a Malaysian Catholic newspaper, from printing the word, overturning a ruling from another court in 2009 that the paper was allowed to print it.

During the case hearing Muslims demonstrated outside the courthouse, chanting and holding banners which read: "Want to use 'Allah', join Islam. Don't be ill-mannered".

Malaysian authorities say that using "Allah" in non-Muslim texts could confuse Muslims and might cause them to convert, which is a crime in that country.

Meanwhile the Catholic Church contends that "Allah" has been used outside of Muslim works for hundreds of years, and the World Council of Churches stated that the 2013 decision threatens religious freedom and the "long history of multi-religious co-existence in Malaysia".

Religious divisions within the country are growing. In January two bombs were thrown at a church, which seemed to echo attacks, primarily against churches, that occurred four years ago when the issue first arose.

Malaysia, though it has a secular government, is a primarily Islamic country, with a little more than 60 percent of the country's 28 million practicing that religion. Nearly 20 percent of the population practices Buddhism, and just 2.6 million people, about 10 percent, are practicing Christians.

While Malaysia has remained relatively stable compared to many other regions in that part of Southeast Asia with a significant population of Muslims, fears are growing amongst some who fear what they see is a growing Islamisation in the country.


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