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Malaysia Court overturns ban on non-Muslims using the word ‘Allah’

ICC Note: High Court in Malaysia grants Christians right to refer to God in any language, including their native one

12/31/09 Malaysia (UCAN) — The High Court in Kuala Lumpur on Dec. 31 ruled that the national Catholic weekly, “Herald,” can use the word “Allah” to refer to God and that the Home Ministry’s order banning its use is illegal.

The court also declared that the word “Allah” is not exclusive to Islam.

“We welcome the court’s decision very much as in the long term it will be not only good for ‘Herald’ but for others as well,” said S. Selvarajah, one of a team of four lawyers involved in the Church’s challenge of the ban.

The Home Ministry in 2007 issued a blanket ban on the use of the word “Allah” in all non-Muslim publications.

Archbishop Murphy Pakiam of Kuala Lumpur, publisher of “Herald,” challenged it in a case that began in February.

Selvarajah told UCA News the judge made six declarations, one citing Article 11 of the constitution on the right to religious freedom.

“Article 11 states that we have the right to manage our own religious affairs, thus using ‘Allah’ as part of our worship is our right,” the lawyer said.

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