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  • » 01/22/2015, 00.00


    Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur: Ruling on the word 'Allah' threatens religious freedom

    Msgr. Julian Leow stresses that the verdict has "opened up a Pandora's box." The prelate fears a "progressive reduction of minority rights" and "increasing interference in the religious sphere." Fr. Lawrence, director of the Herald, hopes that "minority rights are not trampled on". Another decision handed down today against Christians in a story similar to that of the Catholic newspaper.

    Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews) - The Catholic Church in Malaysia is concerned about yesterday's Federal Court decision, which dismissed the Catholics appeal on the use of the word "Allah". The ruling, in fact, might "open up a Pandora's box" that will lead to the gradual reduction of the rights of minorities and increasing interference in the religious sphere. A fear expressed and shared by the new Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur Msgr. Julian Leow, who does not hide his "disappointment" for the court's ruling, which, however, "was not totally unexpected."

    Yesterday, the Federal Court of Malaysia rejected for the umpteenth - and perhaps last - time the appeal filed by the Catholic Church, that he intended to bring the case concerning the use of the word "Allah" for non-Muslims to the Supreme Court. The five judges who made up the jury voted unanimously denying the possibility of any further legal action because "there were procedural errors" in the lower courts.

    Speaking to Malaysian Insider, the prelate said: " "I  would like to believe this adverse decision is confined only to the Herald and will not open a Pandora's box on curbing the rights of minorities in managing our own religious affairs. In God we continue to pray and trust that there is light at the end of this tunnel".

    Meanwhile, the Catholics lawyer Datuk Cyrus Das, said that the "Allah" case - despite everything - is not yet over. He explains that there are "core elements" in this matter, including the appearance of religious freedom, which could be "revised" in the future in the context of legal proceedings very similar to the one that has just been archived.

    Father Lawrence Andrew, editor of Malaysia Herald, is more pessimistic and believes the legal battle for their weekly paper is over. However, the priest hopes that "we can still live together in peace and harmony" and, at the same time, "we pray that minority rights are not trampled on".

    Today, meanwhile, the High Court of Kuala Lumpur authorized the confiscation of eight CDs belonging to a Christian ethnic Sarawakian, Jill Ireland, because they contain within them the word "Allah"; the case is similar to that of the Herald, and which unfortunately seems destined to end in the same way although there remains the possibility of appeal.

    In Malaysia, a mostly Muslim nation (60 per cent) of more than 28 million, Christians are the third largest religious group after Buddhists with more than 2.6 million members. A Latin-Malay dictionary published 400 year ago shows that 'Allah' was used in the Bible from the start to refer to God in the local language. Out of a population of over 11 million people, Catholics in Kuala Lumpur number over 180 thousand; there are 55 priests, 154 religious and one permanent deacon.


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    22/08/2016 10:13:00 MALAYSIA
    Kuala Lumpur, arrests famous rapper: "He insulted Islam"

    Namewee, stage name of Wee Meng Chee, was stopped at the airport in the capital yesterday after returning from a trip abroad. In the song "Oh My God" he used the word "Allah" and sounds similar to the Islamic call to prayer. The singer: "I did not mean to offend anyone but promote harmony between religions".

    27/01/2014 MALAYSIA - ISLAM
    Molotov cocktails and banners against churches. Malaysian priest warns of escalating sectarian divisions
    Two rudimentary bombs hurled at the Church of the Assumption in Padang overnight, only one exploded but caused no casualties or injuries. Yesterday derogatory banners hung outside three churches in the area . Fr. Lawrence : Catholics must be free to worship. Even Malaysia at risk of Islamization

    08/01/2010 MALAYSIA
    Malaysia: Four Christian churches attacked over controversy on the use of "Allah"
    Three Protestant places of worship, and one Catholic in the sights of Islamic fundamentalists. The offices of Metro Tabernacle Church damaged. Cars owned by Catholics vandalised. The director of the Catholic weekly Herald confirms "pressure" on government and judiciary to "cancel the Supreme Court ruling."

    20/01/2014 MALAYSIA
    Kuala Lumpur Archbishop stands by Fr. Lawrence in religious freedom battle over “Allah” controversy
    Archbishop Murphy Pakiam "saddened and disappointed" by the attacks on the editor of the Herald Malaysia. The burning of images that portray the priest equivalent to "an attack against entire Christian community”. Criticism of political class’ silence and failure to protect the rights of all and an invitation to the Christian community to "be strong."

    28/12/2007 MALAYSIA
    Catholic weekly denounces government for banning Christians from using the world “Allah”
    The Minister for Security blocks the Malay language editions and buries publication permission for the only Catholic newspaper. It also stops the importation of Protestant books which use the word “Allah”. Its use outside Islam is considered a “very sensitive” issue.

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