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ICC Note: Malaysian government refused to reveal why it has banned non-Muslims from using Arabic world “Allah” as God. The church has asked the government to provide documents giving the reasons for 1986 “Allah ban”. However, the government are not required to show the existence of the documents if they believe it would hurt the public interest. Research shows that Christians have been using the word “Allah” as early as the fifth century B.C. Furthermore, no report shows that the Bahasa Malaysia-speaking Christians using the word “Allah” have caused any public disorder. 

09/19/2017 Malaysia (Malay Mail) – A Sabah church today asked the courts to order the government to disclose documents showing why it had banned non-Muslims from using the Arabic word “Allah”, but the government objected by saying such documents were classified as “official secrets”.

Lim Heng Seng, the lead counsel for the Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB) Sabah church, argued that it was necessary for the government to reveal information relating to its original ban in 1986 on the word “Allah” in non-Muslim publications.

Noting that the Home Ministry had cited the 1986 government circular after its 2007 seizure of SIB Sabah’s Christian education, Lim said this initial ban was the “root” behind recurring problems faced by local Bahasa Malaysia-speaking Christians who have been using the word “Allah” for hundreds of years.

He described the situation as akin to the “Sword of Damocles” hanging over Malaysian churches’ head, where the 31-year-old ban was not always enforced but would from time to time be used by “little Napoleons” for seizures that would later be reversed after brought to the attention of senior officials like the prime minister or ministers.

“In what way is it justified that the word used for generations is a threat to public order? Show us the documents,” he told the High Court here, arguing that the government could not “out of the blue” stop the Bahasa Malaysia-speaking Christians from using the “Allah” word which they consider sacred.

“We have no such research, we have no such reports prior to or after 1986 that shows Christians using the word ‘Allah’ have caused public disorder,” he further said..

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