Malaysia court reserves decision on use of ‘Allah’ by Catholics

Malaysia’s highest court has reserved its decision on whether to hear the Catholic Church’s appeal to be able to use the word “Allah”.

Hundreds of Muslims demonstrated outside the court shouting “Allahu Akbar” or “God is great”.

They also held banners that read: “Want to use ‘Allah’, join Islam. Don’t be ill-mannered”.

They dispersed after the court hearing.

“Allah cannot be used by outsiders or Christians,” said Rosli Ani, a representative of a Muslim NGO known as Per3.

“People now may know the difference, but our children will not know,” she said.

Fr Lawrence Andrew, the editor of the Herald, which launched the case, said Christians across Malaysia were fasting and praying for a favourable verdict.

An appeals court in October barred the local Catholic newspaper from using “Allah” in its Malay-language edition, overturning a lower court’s 2009 ruling in favour of the Church.

The Church argues “Allah” has been used for centuries in Malay-language Bibles and other literature to refer to “God” outside of Islam.

But authorities say using “Allah” in non-Muslim literature could confuse Muslims and entice them to convert, a crime in Malaysia.

Hard line Malay rights spokesman Ibrahim Ali, who was with the protesters, said if the Federal Court verdict was not in favour of the Muslims, then it would jeopardise the nation.

Ibrahim added that should the Federal Court allow the appeal to proceed, then Malay NGOs would come here each day to support the “Malay cause”.



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