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Malaysia court bans use of word "Allah" by Christian newspaper

An appeals court in Malaysia has banned a Christian newspaper from using the word "Allah"

Share on Facebook October 14, 2013, Reporter : DW.DE, Reader : 419

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An appeals court in Malaysia has banned a Christian newspaper from using the word "Allah" to refer to God. The newspaper has called the ruling unconstitutional and has vowed to take the case to the federal court.

A panel of three judges ruled on Monday that the Roman Catholic daily newspaper The Herald can no longer use the term "Allah" to refer to God, arguing that the Arabic word may be used only by Muslims.

 "We could find no reason why the [Catholic newspaper] is so adamant to use the word 'Allah' in their weekly," Judge Ali said, adding that the appeals court's had found that the use of that term was "not an integral part of the faith and practice of Christianity."

The legal dispute stems from a previous government ban on The Herald from using the term. The daily had taken its case to court, arguing the ban was unconstitutional, and subsequently won an appeal in 2009. However, the court's decision to override the government sparked unrest in Malaysia, with some opponents of the ruling setting fire to and vandalizing Christian churches.

Ruling overlooks history

The Roman Catholic daily reiterated its previous criticism of the ban on Monday, arguing that the term "Allah" has been the common term for God in the Malay language for centuries and should not pose a problem to Muslims. DW.DE

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