Saturday, December 22, 2007

Malaysian Catholic weekly told to drop use of 'Allah' in order to renew publishing permit

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: A Catholic weekly newspaper in Malaysia has been told to drop the use of the word "Allah" in its Malay language section if it wants to renew its publishing permit, a senior government official said Friday.

The Herald, the organ of Malaysia's Catholic Church, has translated the word God as "Allah" but it is erroneous because Allah refers to the Muslim God, said Che Din Yusoff, a senior official at the Internal Security Ministry's publications control unit.

"Christians cannot use the word Allah. It is only applicable to Muslims. Allah is only for the Muslim god. This is a design to confuse the Muslim people," Che Din told The Associated Press.

Full story here.

Che Din Yusoff needs to go for further education. He is making himself and the predominantly Muslim majority government of Malaysia a laughing stock.

Have you ever heard Arab Muslims in the Middle East forbidding the use of the word Allah in the Arabic Bible or by non Muslims?

Does Che Din Yusoff not know that the word Allah the name for God is not only used in Islam? The word Allah was used by Arab Jews in Saudi Arabia long before the advent of Islam.

The Internal Security Ministry's publications control unit banned the Iban Bible over the same issue .. the use of Allah in the Iban Bible. That ban was lifted after an outcry by the Ibans in Sarawak.

It is dispiriting for me to read this news during this Christmas season. Malaysia loves to promote herself as a tolerant multi-racial, multi-religious society to the world but when issues like this arise, one has to wonder if the image is just a sham.

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