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Malaysia faces Christian outcry over word “Allah”

ICC Note:

Malay Muslims rule that the term “Allah” is prohibited from use by any non-Muslim, demanding that the change be instituted in all media, as well. Newspapers and book publishers risk losing licenses and/or the ability to sell if they do not comply with this change. The Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur has filed a lawsuit to challenge the order. Many Christian groups claim that the usage of the word Allah even predates Islam.

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12/28/07 Malaysia (Reuters) A Malaysian Catholic newspaper and church groups cried foul on Friday over a government move to forbid non-Muslims from using the word Allah.

The dispute came out in the open after Malaysia’s internal security ministry ruled recently the term Allah — long used by Christians in Malaysia to refer to God — could no longer be used by non-Muslims.

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

Politically dominant ethnic Malay Muslims form about 60 percent of the population of roughly 26 million, while the ethnic Indian and Chinese minorities include Hindus, Buddhists and Christians.

Political analysts say the ruling is an extension of the Malay Muslim supremacy taking firmer root in Malaysia.

“The Malays want to make Islam exclusive to Muslims,” said one analyst.

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