In a landmark judgment,a Malaysian court on Monday ruled that non-Muslims cannot use the word Allah to refer to God and prohibited a Christian newspaper from using it in the Muslim-majority nation.
A unanimous decision of the Court of Appeal here allowed the governments appeal to set aside the 2009 decision of a High Court which had allowed The Herald,a Malaysian Catholic newspaper,to use the word Allah to refer to God.
In December 2009,the High Court had declared the decision by the home ministry prohibiting The Herald from using the word Allah as illegal,null and void.
Anger over that ruling had sparked arson attacks and vandalism at Malaysian churches and other places of worship.
Federal Court judge Seri Mohamed Apandi Ali,leading a three-member panel,said it was the courts considered finding that the home minister had not acted in any manner or way that merited judicial interference on his decision to prohibit the publication to use the word Allah.
On evidence before us too,we are satisfied that sufficient materials have been considered by the minister (home minister) in discharging his function and statutory power under the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984, he was quoted as saying by the Bernama news agency.
The judge said it was also the courts judgment that the condition set by the home ministry in the Heralds publication permit,which prohibited The Herald from using the word Allah,did not infringe any churchs constitutional rights.
It is our common finding that the usage of the name Allah is not an integral part of the faith and practice of Christianity, said Justice Apandi,who read out the summary of the judgment.
Herald editor Father Lawrence Andrew,responding to the verdict,said the ruling was flawed and Church would appeal against the ruling.