(AsiaNews) - Malaysia's Court of Appeal dismissed a request by Catholic leaders
to dismiss an appeal filed by the government against a 2009 High Court
decision allowing the use of the word Allah in Christian
bench of justices issued their ruling after a morning of
deliberation, saying that appeal hearings would start 10 September to
resolve the dispute between The Herald,
a Malaysian Catholic weekly, and the Home Ministry.
of Muslims waiting outside for the ruling, Court of Appeal
Justice Datuk Abu Samah said the matter "is still a live issue and the
controversy has yet to be resolved. Thus we dismiss this application",
this despite a ten-point letter issued by Prime
Minister Najib Razak on 11 April 2011, allowing Bahasa Malaysia
Bibles to use the word Allah.
For the justice,
"It is a drastic action to strike out an appeal that has been properly filed
before this court and to deny the appellants the right to an appeal". In fact, the government insists that the Arabic word "Allah" should be
for the exclusive use of Muslims.
statement issued yesterday, the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur expressed fear that
the controversy could trigger possible violence, fed by vitriolic statements from
of these claims," Catholic leaders note, "are fomenting racial clashes and
creating religious tensions in the country." People should wait until
"justice takes its course," they said. for their part, the authorities should
"take the necessary measures to prevent violence."
controversy over the use of the name "Allah" for the Christian God in
the media and books, like the Bible, in Bahasa Malaysia broke out in 2008, when
the Home Ministry threatened to revoke The
Herald's license to publish. In response, Catholic Church leaders sued the
government for violating rights enshrined in the Constitution.
In 2009, the
High Court granted Catholics the right to use the term "Allah", a ruling
that shocked and angered Muslims, who consider the word exclusive to Islam.
followed by a wave of violence with attacks and improvised explosive devices used
against churches and other places of worship.
attempt to stem the tide and appease extremist Islamists, the Malaysian government
decided to appeal the High Court ruling.
Southeast Asian nation of some 28 million with a Muslim majority, Christians
are the third largest religious group (after Buddhists) with about 2.6 million
When a 400-year-old
Latin-Malay dictionary was recently republished, it showed that the word
"Allah" was used from the start to
name the biblical God in the local language.