Churches in Malaysia Banned from Using ‘Allah’

05/29/2020 Malaysia (International Christian Concern) – Christians in Putrajaya, Malaysia face legal persecution in High Court’s decision to reserve the right for Muslims to have exclusive usage of the term ‘Allah’ to refer to God. Documents about that decision became classified under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) in 2017. For years, the Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB) Church has fought against that decision.

SIB is appealing to the High Court on the grounds of their constitutional right to use the word “Allah” in the Bahasa language to refer to the Christian God. According to previous research, Christians have been using the word “Allah” as early as the fifth century B.C. Yet historically, the Malaysian government has refused to reveal why it has banned non-Muslims from using “Allah” as God. Although the church has asked the government to provide documents giving the reasons for its 1986 “Allah ban,” a High Court decision to prohibit the use of ‘Allah’ in non-Muslim literature, since the government is not required to show the existence of the documents if they believe it would hurt the public interest, the latter never offers.

The application was also filed to challenge the decision of the Royal Malaysian Customs to seize religious publications brought in from Indonesia, which contained the word “Allah”, at the low-cost carrier terminal in Sepang on August 15, 2007.

The Court of Appeals has set a date for next month for the SIB Church to appeal the 1986 “Allah ban,” according to senior federal counsel Shamsul Bolhassan, who is representing the Home Ministry and the government in the appeal.

For interviews, please contact Communications Coordinator Olivia Miller: press@persecution.org

ICC is on a mission to help persecuted Christians. Will you join us?