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Malaysia: Malaysia's 'Allah' ruling widely criticised
12 December 2013
Malaysia's escalating dispute over who has the right to use the word 'Allah' to describe God continues unabated.
The country's Court of Appeal ruled in October that only Malay Muslims were entitled to do so.
The indigenous people of the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak, who have been using 'Allah' in text and worship for more than a century, and long before the formation of Malaysia, have rejected what they call the "repugnant" verdict.
This week more than 10,000 local Iban Christians are gathering in Kuching, the capital of Sarawak, for an annual conference. A spokesman said they plan to stage a peaceful protest to remind the federal government to honour its commitment to religious freedom.
Pastor James Ganie, from the Gospel Baptist Church in Kuching, told The Malaysian Insider: "The large gathering has more to do with faith rather than the legal matter that is before the court, or even politics. But we will be making our stand again on religious freedom. The meeting will again ask the government to respect the Malaysia Agreement and the assurance of religious freedom."
The court's decision was also widely criticised abroad, including by mainly Muslim countries such as Pakistan and Indonesia, where religious authorities say that prohibiting the use of 'Allah' by non-Muslims has no basis in Islam.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion, Heiner Bielefeldt, has urged the Malaysian government to reverse its decision.
More News from Malaysia:
- Media attention builds over Pastor's mysterious abduction, two months on
- Kidnapped pastor still missing after one month
- Right to convert challenged
- Use of 'Allah' still unresolved for Malaysia's Christians
Find out more about persecution in Malaysia.