Catholic paper defies Malaysian government ban on ‘Allah’

A Catholic newspaper in Malaysia has defied a ban on using the word ‘Allah’ as a translation for ‘God’.

Written by Agencies | Kuala Lumpur | Published: January 20, 2009 3:40 pm

A Catholic newspaper in Malaysia has defied a ban on using the word “Allah” as a translation for “God”,in a row with the government which has threatened to close the weekly publication.

The editor of the Herald newspaper,Father Lawrence Andrew,said this week’s edition uses the banned word and that he intends to continue doing so until the courts rule on the issue next month.

“We find this restriction on the use of ‘Allah’ unacceptable when we have been using it as a translation for ‘God’ for centuries in Malaysia,” he said.

Authorities have said the word should only be used by Muslims.

The government last month ordered a ban on the Herald’s Malay edition until the court makes its decision,as part of conditions for it to be allowed to continue printing its editions in English,Chinese and Tamil.

But after the newspaper warned it would take legal action to overturn the ban,the home ministry backed down and said it could continue publishing as long as it did not use the disputed translation.

“Munshi Abdullah,the father of modern Malay literature,translated the Bible into Malay in 1852 and he also translated ‘God’ as ‘Allah’ so there is strong historical proof of what we have been using for centuries,” said Andrew.

The Herald,circulated among the country’s 850,000 Catholics,nearly lost its publishing license last year for using the disputed word.

Religion and language are sensitive issues in Malaysia where 60 per cent of the nation’s 27 million people are Muslim Malays. (AFP) MRE 01201533 DELHI karma.takapa is offline. You can still send this person messages and they will receive them the next time they are online.

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