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ICC Note: A seven judge panel this week announced they would adjourn Malaysia’s controversial court case on the use of the word “Allah” to a “later date.” The ruling came as hundreds of Muslims protested outside the courthouse, demanding that the Arabic word for God be limited by law to only Muslim use. Malay Christians have been using the Arabic word for God as far back as four hundred years ago. The issue has become the focal point of intolerance towards Christians and other minority faiths in a country that was once known for its peaceful coexistence of a diverse group of religions. 
3/5/2014 Malaysia (AsiaNews) – Hundreds of Muslims demonstrated outside the Federal Court in Kuala Lumpur, where the first session in the appeal case filed by Catholics was heard today on whether to ban the use of the word Allah for the Christian God.
A panel of seven judges – something unique in the history of Malaysia for a civil case – heard the arguments from both parties, and adjourned the case to “a later date.”
At present, it is not possible to know whether the court will hear the Catholic petition for a retrial, or uphold the lower court’s decision of banning the use of Allah.
The lawyer representing the Catholic case, Cyrus Das, said he was “quite confident” because the issue is “of great public importance” and the Church has a new opportunity to plead its case in court.
In an attempt to put pressure on judges examining the case, at least 500 people brandished placards outside the courthouse, shouting slogans like ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is great) and ‘Allah cannot be used by outsiders or Christians’.
The Catholic Church filed a case against the appeal court whose ruling in October last year coincided with government wishes and banned non-Muslims from using the word Allah so as “not to cause confusion.” The ban singles out the Catholic weekly Herald.
For Church leaders (and activist movements), the reason given is preposterous, a blatant violation of religious freedom in a multi-cultural nation that, for some time, has experienced rising sectarian tensions.
Herald editor Fr Andrew Lawrence said that today, in conjunction with Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, Christians across the country have been praying and fasting “for a favourable verdict.”
At the same time, a small group of people rallied outside the Bangsar shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur, handing out flowers and balloons to express solidarity with Christians.
The activists held up banners, saying that “God is one”, ” We are brothers and sisters” and “We all answer to Allah.”
The group included Marina Mahathir, an activist and daughter of Malaysian’s fourth prime minister Mahathir bin Mohamad. Calling for peace and harmony, she said, “We are tired of all this ugliness and this climate of hate”.

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