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ICC Note: For 400 years Malay Christians have used a translation of the Bible that uses the Arabic word Allah to describe God. The use of the word has become a sensitive issue for some Malay Muslims and multiple efforts have been made by the Malay government and officials to ban the use of the word by Christians. The issue is part of a larger atmosphere of hostility in Malaysia towards non-Muslims. It is illegal for Muslims to convert to Christianity and those who do face not only potential legal repercussions but great social hostility as well. 
6/26/2013 Malaysia (UCANews) –  The Malaysian election is over and the controversy over use of the word Allah has bounced back from the political arena to the courts. Yet it is still unclear when the case will be heard.
Are Christians allowed to use “Allah” – the Arabic word for God – in Malay language publications as they have done ever since the first translation of the Bible into Malay some 400 years ago?
In 2008 the Malaysian Home Ministry said “No.” Muslims will get confused if they do, it said, and threatened not to renew the publication license for the Malay language edition of the Catholic weekly The Herald if they continued to use Allah.
The Herald launched a court challenge and won the lawsuit in December 2009 because of the government’s failure to prove its “confusion” claim.
“They did not present one single example of ‘confusion’,” Herald editor Father Lawrence Andrew recalls.
The government appealed against the verdict instantly, yet a final date for the appeal has still to be set.
It may have been the verdict that prompted customs officials to seize thousands of Malay language Bibles imported from Indonesia.
During the recent election campaign the incumbent BN party stuck up posters that showed a Christian church with the words “Rumah Allah’’, or House of Allah.
It read: “Do we want to see our children and grandchildren pray in this Allah’s house? If we allow the use of the word Allah in churches, we sell our religion, race and nation….Vote Barisan Nasional because they can protect your religion, race and nation.’’

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