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 Malaysian row over word for 'God'

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PostSubject: Malaysian row over word for 'God'   Fri Dec 28, 2007 11:17 pm

Malaysian row over word for 'God'

A church and Christian newspaper in Malaysia are suing the
government after it decreed that the word "Allah" can only
be used by Muslims.


In the Malay language "Allah" is used to mean any god, and
Christians say they have used the term for centuries.

Opponents of the ban say it is unconstitutional and unreasonable.

It is the latest in a series of religious rows in largely Muslim Malaysia,
where minority groups claim their rights are being eroded.

A spokesman for the Herald, the newspaper of the Catholic Church
in Malaysia, said a legal suit was filed after they received repeated
official warnings that the newspaper could have its license revoked
if it continued to use the word.

"We are of the view that we have the right to use the word 'Allah',"
said editor Rev Lawrence Andrew.

'Unlawful'

The Sabah Evangelical Church of Borneo has also taken legal action
after a government ministry moved to ban the import of religious
children's books containing the word.

In a statement given to Reuters news agency, the church said the
translation of the bible in which the word Allah appears has been
used by Christians since the earliest days of the church.

There has been no official government comment but parliamentary
opposition leader Lim Kit Siang said the decision to ban the word
for non-Muslims on security grounds was "unlawful".

"The term 'Allah' was used to refer to God by Arabic-speaking
Christians before Arabic-speaking Muslims existed," he said.

Religious issues are highly sensitive in Malaysia, which has a 60%
Muslim population.

Religious freedom is guaranteed in the law but minority groups have
accused the Muslim Malay majority of trying to increase the role of
Islam in the country.
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