Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Use of "Allah" By Non-Muslims Again Erupts As Issue In Malaysia

In Malaysia, the right of non-Muslims to use the word "allah" to refer to God in prayers and religious material has again become a subject of controversy.  In late 2009, a Malaysian court held that the Constitution protected the right of a Catholic newspaper to use the word "Allah" in its Malay-language edition.  However, its decision was stayed pending appeal. (See prior posting.) Last month in his Christmas message, the head of the opposition DAP party called for the federal government to lift its ban on the use of "Allah" in Malay language Bibles shipped to Sabah and Sarawak, where most Malaysian Christians live.  As reported by yesterday's Malaysian Insider, this has led the Sultan of Selangor to call for an emergency meeting of the Selangor Islamic Religious Council to assure enforcement of a 2010 fatwa banning non-Muslim religions from using the term. He has also ordered the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department to take action against groups that continue to question the fatwa.  Meanwhile Sikhs (Malaysian Insider) and Christians (Malaysian Insider) are both concerned about the Sultan's actions.