03/23/2011, 00.00
MALAYSIA
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Seized Bibles: Kuala Lumpur backtracks. Christians evaluate proposal

Bibles no will longer have a serial number, " Christians only" on cover or Ministry of Interior seal, but only the stamp "for Christianity." This issue is related to the use of the word "Allah" for God by non-Muslims.

Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Malaysian government has proposed a compromise solution to the issue of 35 thousand Bibles blocked in the country’s ports. The issue is related to the government ban - rejected by a court order – on Christians using the term "Allah" for God. The government, which is often accused of favouring the Muslim majority with respect to Christians and other religious minorities, says it will release the Bibles once "For Christianity” is printed on the books

A previous proposal stipulated that the Bibles be printed with serial number, and the words "only for Christians." This formula was immediately rejected by all Christian denominations, because they did not want the holy book marred by writing, by serial numbers and the seal of the Ministry of Interior. Idris Jala, speaking on behalf of the Prime Minister said that the Bibles will only be stamped with the words "For Christianity."

Local sources said the proposal has found some support among Christian leaders. The Secretary General of the Council of Churches, Hermen Shastri, who attended the meeting with government representatives, said that Christian leaders have asked for a few days to meet and take a joint decision. "I understand the government’s urgency, but they must give us their strongest assurances that this will not happen again." Malaysian Christians are about nine percent of the population, and include many of the indigenous groups of Borneo. They speak the national language, Malay and have used the word "Allah" for God for centuries without any problems.
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