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M'sia Catholic church continue appeal for 'Allah' usage
Publication Date : 14-10-2013
Catholic weekly The Herald will not give up on its bid to use the word "Allah" in its Bahasa Malaysia (Malay language) section, despite the Malaysian Court of Appeal decision on Monday banning its usage, said its editor Reverend Lawrence Andrew.
Speaking after the judgment was handed down, he said a Federal Court appeal was planned by The Herald.
Andrew, who urged Malaysian Christians to keep praying for justice, added that Christians as a minority in Malaysia should be protected under the law.
"We are saying we have a right as a minority in this country to live in freedom," said Andrew.
He disagreed with the suggestion that the use of the word "Allah" was not integral to the Christian faith.
"In the Middle East and Indonesia, Allah is a term used by both Christians and Muslims. You cannot say all of a sudden that it is not an integral part," said Andrew.
"A language is for all, and you give your theological arguments for a word according to your own religion," he added.
Asked if The Herald was pressing on with the case to prove a point, Andrew said this was not so as the word was used in Malacca even before the Koran was translated into Bahasa Malaysia.
"We have been using this word for nearly four or five hundred years, people have been living in peace and harmony. We have published The Herald for 19 years and we have not caused any trouble," said Andrew.
Earlier, the court overturned a High Court decision and unanimously ruled that the The Herald will not be allowed to use the word "Allah" to refer to the Christian God.
The Herald counsel S. Selvarajah said that while he and his team were disappointed with the decision of the court, they were not discouraged as they believed the Federal Court will address the constitutional issues in their case.
"We expected these judges to decide according to law and established principles of constitutional law," said Selvarajah.
Meanwhile, Malaysian Council of Churches general secretary Reverend Dr Hermen Shastri said the word "Allah" was an integral part of Christianity and used by millions of Christians in the Middle East.
He said he did not believe that there would be trouble in Malaysia if The Herald was allowed to use the term "Allah" in its Bahasa Malaysia section.
"They haven't banned the use of the word 'Allah' in the Bible. What are they saying now?".
He said within the Muslim community in Malaysia, religion-based opposition party, the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, had come out to say that the word "Allah" can be used by Christians.
"We pray for peace, we are not out to create trouble for anybody.
"There are 1.6 million Christians in Sabah and Sarawak using the word 'Allah'. What signal is now being sent to these Christians?" added Shastri.