Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews) - The Catholic newspaper of the diocese of Kuala Lumpur, the Herald, is undergoing a campaign of insults and criticism because of its use of the word "Allah." The attack is coming from much of the Malaysian press, and in particular from Utusan Malaysia, a national newspaper. Recently, since February 1, Utusan has started publishing an article every day insulting the Catholic newspaper and accusing it of proselytism. It is trying to stir up outrage among the Muslim population over the use of the word "Allah" in reference to the Christian God, and is accusing the publication of wanting to ruin the nation.
Murphy Nicholas Xavier Pakiam, the archbishop of the capital, has published a statement in which he says that the diocese and the newspaper "will not make any comment" about the campaign in the press until "the decision of the High Court which will be made at the appropriate time."
The prohibition of the use of the word "Allah" dates back more than a year, and the Herald even risked being shut down if it did not comply with the decision of the Interior Security Ministry, which sees use of the word as a possible source of confusion for Muslims, and of conflict between the two communities.
The diocese has sued the government, and is waiting for a verdict from the High Court because it maintains that the ban is a violation of religious freedom and expression, guaranteed by the Constitution.
According to observers, the media campaign against the Herald is aimed at provoking Christians to create tension and conflict, which would support the stance of the Interior Security Ministry.
Academics and politicians have repeatedly noted that the use of the word "Allah" on the part of Christians dates back to long before Mohammed himself, and that in Indonesia, a neighboring Muslim majority country, Christians have used the word for centuries to refer to the Christian God, without causing any scandal.