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03/10/2021 Malaysia (International Christian Concern) – On Wednesday, the Malaysian High Court ruled that non-Muslims can use the word “Allah” to refer to God, overturning a decades-long ban that caused religious tensions in the predominantly Muslim country.

According to the plaintiff’s lawyer, Annou Xavier, the 35-year-old government ban on the usage of Allah and three other Arabic words by Christian publications will be lifted, deeming the ban unconstitutional.

The case started in August 2008, when a Christian woman from Sarawak, filed a lawsuit against the government over her constitutional rights to freely practice her faith and to non-discrimination, after the religious materials she carried in the local Malay language that contained the word “Allah” were seized at Kuala Lumpur airport.

Associated Press reports the government stated before that “Allah” should be reserved exclusively for Muslims to avoid confusion that could lead them to convert to other religions, a stance that is unique to Malaysia and hasn’t been an issue in other Muslim-majority nations with sizeable Christian minorities.

However, Christians in Malaysia have used the word “Allah” for God, which in Bahasa language, is a Malay word derived from Arabic, in their Bibles, prayers, and songs for centuries. They have argued that the banning of the word, is unconstitutional and unlawful.

After more than a decade of legal battle and 14 postponements, the High Court finally sided with Christians. “The court has now said the word Allah can be used by all Malaysians,” Xavier said.

“Today’s decision entrenches the fundamental freedom of religious rights for non-Muslims in Malaysia enshrined in the constitution,” he added.

For interviews, contact Alison Garcia: [email protected].