A Catholic newspaper may not use the word ‘Allah’ to refer to God, a Malaysian appeals court ruled on Monday. The all-Muslim, three-judge panel reversed a 2009 finding by a trial court that allowed the Malay-language newspaper, The Herald, to print the word.
Chief judge Mohamed Apandi Ali said in the ruling: “The usage of the word ‘Allah’ is not an integral part of the faith in Christianity. The usage of the word will cause confusion in the community.”
Rev. Lawrence Andrew, founding editor of the Herald, said in response: “God is an integral part of every religion,” and said the paper will appeal to Malaysia’s highest court, according to Reuters.
The Christian Federation of Malaysia issued a statement calling the ruling “yet another erosion and infringement of the constitutional protection to the freedom of religious communities to profess and practise their faith.” Federation Chairman Rev. Eu Hong Seng said the ruling does not appear to apply to the use of ‘Allah’ in the Bible, educational materials, or during worship.