Malaysia Court: Only Muslims Can Use 'Allah'

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Non-Muslims may not use the word "Allah" to refer to God in Malaysia, an appeals court ruled, saying the name should be reserved exclusively for followers of Islam.

Allah is an Arabic word that refers to God in the Malay language.

The decision overturns a ruling four years ago by a lower court against the government ban that sparked angry protests, vandalism, and arson against churches and other non-Muslim places of worship in Malaysia.

According to the report, the controversy stems from a weekly publication in Malaysia by the Roman Catholic Church that uses the name Allah for God in its newspaper.

The Catholics claim they're not attempting to convert Muslims, arguing that Christians who speak the Malay language have referred to God as Allah for years in their literature, Bibles, and songs.

But Judge Mohamed Apandi Ali said using the name "Allah" is "not an integral part of the faith and practice of Christianity."

"It is our judgment that there is no infringement of any constitutional rights," Ali said. "We could find no reason why the [Catholic newspaper] is so adamant to use the word 'Allah' in their weekly [publication]. Such usage if allowed will inevitably cause confusion within the community."

The editor of the Catholic newspaper, Rev. Lawrence Andrew, said they plan to appeal the decision in the country's highest court.

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