The Malaysian government has reiterated that non-Muslims cannot use the word "Allah," sparking concern yesterday among Christians who use it to refer to God in their Malay-language Bible and other publications.
Abdullah Zin, the de facto minister for Islamic affairs, told reporters on Thursday that the Cabinet is of the view that "Allah" refers to the Muslim God and can only be used by Muslims, who comprise about 60 percent of Malaysia's population.
"The use of the word `Allah' by non-Muslims may arouse sensitivity and create confusion among Muslims in the country," Abdullah said.
His statement is the latest twist in a long-drawn controversy involving the Herald, a weekly organ of Malaysia's Catholic Church.
It was told by the Internal Security Ministry last month that its Malay-language section would be banned unless it stops using "Allah" as a synonym for God.
But the paper was surprised when the ministry made an apparent about-turn last weekend by renewing its annual permit -- a government requirement for all publications in Malaysia -- without imposing any conditions.
The paper assumed it was a tacit approval for the use of "Allah."
But Abdullah's comments on Thursday threw the issue into fresh confusion and will likely renew complaints by ethnic minorities that their rights are increasingly undermined because of government efforts to bolster the status of Islam, Malaysia's official religion.
The Herald's editor, Reverend Lawrence Andrew, said its latest issue on Wednesday still uses "Allah," but he could not say whether upcoming editions would omit the word.
"We will have to discuss how to go about this with our lawyers and publishers," Andrew said.
Andrew reiterated the paper's stance that Malay-speaking Christians have long used the word, which has roots in Arabic and predates Islam.
"The newspaper does use Allah in quotes from the [Malay-language] Bible. Nobody can tell us that we cannot quote from the Bible. That would be a gross violation of our rights,'' he said.
Andrew declined to comment further, adding the paper had initiated court action over the issue.
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big