09/11/2013, 00.00

Malaysia , the courts of appeal refer verdict on the use of the word "Allah" to October

Appeal hearing opened yesterday , with assistance from the lawyers of the Interior Ministry and the lawyer of the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur. For the government it is a "religious" matter, for Catholics defense of a " constitutional right " . The prime minister could "politicize " the story to garner electoral support . Director of the Catholic Herald : " Optimistic " .

Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews) - The Court of Appeal should release its verdict on the dispute related to the use of the word " Allah " for Christians by October.  The long-standing saga has dragged on for some time following a dispute opposing the weekly magazine the Herald and the Kuala Lumpur government supported by the Malaysian Islamic fringe . Yesterday there was a hearing presided over by the chief judge Apnadi Mohd Ali , who announced the verdict "no later than October, and with written justification". The hearing was attended by the lawyers of the two sides: the Interior Ministry and the Government , in defense of the interests of the Muslims, against the Malaysian Catholic Church and Christian leadership . Outside, hundreds of members of Islamist movements surrounded the courthouse, with placards and slogans (pictured) some charging Christians of " plagiarism" .

Counsel for the Government stated that the Herald prohibition is justified by the "sensitivity" of the matter, which revolves around "religious" issues in a nation "that has a large Muslim majority." On the other hand, the lawyer of the Archdiocese and the Catholic weekly argued that at a constitutional level , citing the art . 11, they are defending the right of "religious practice" for all without constraints or restrictions .

The court then adjourned the hearing , postponing the long awaited decision which is increasingly taking on a political nature. Analysts and experts are concerned about its possible "political" use in terms of personal interest that Prime Minister Najib Razak is giving the whole affair ; resized by the results of the recent elections , the Prime Minister seems determined to take the dispute to buy consents within the Islamist fringe.

Interviewed on leaving the courtroom Fr. Lawrence Andrew, priest and editor of the Herald , maintains a certain "optimism" stressing that "we are working on the merits of the case" and " we hope for a solution ." He recalls the legislative decree that "allows" the use of the word for non-Muslims , as was the case in the "Malay -language editions of the Bible ." At the same time , Christian leadership - Catholic and Protestant - reject the accusations of proselytism and plagiarism and call on all parties to "ease the tension ."

The 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. They added that the Christians of Sabah and Sarawak have used the word "Allah" for generations without problems , as it has done for 14 years, the Catholic weekly .

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. This was followed by a wave of violence with attacks and improvised explosive devices used against churches and other places of worship. In an attempt to stem the tide and appease extremist Islamists, the Malaysian government decided to appeal the High Court ruling. Malaysia, a 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 members.  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.




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See also
Malaysia , Christians banned from using "Allah ". Catholics announce appeal
New attack against Christians in Malaysia: the ninth in four days
400 year-old Malaysian-Latin Dictionary: proof of use of the word Allah
For the archbishop of Kuala Lumpur, the word "Allah" can be used in the Bible and in the Mass
Malaysia's Federal Court dismisses Catholic case for the use of the word Allah