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.
SECRET AGREEMENT: China is paying for construction at Ream Naval Base, where dredging would be needed if larger military ships were to dock there, AMTI said Dredgers have been spotted off Cambodia’s Ream Naval Base, where China is funding construction work and deeper port facilities would be necessary for the docking of larger military ships, a US think tank said on Friday. The US, which has sought to push back against Beijing’s extensive territorial claims and military expansion in the South China Sea, reiterated its “serious concerns” about China’s construction and military presence at Ream. “These developments threaten US and partner interests, regional security and Cambodia’s sovereignty,” a US Department of State spokesperson said. The report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) think tank said the
France is to relax some COVID-19 restrictions from early next month in a bet that an outbreak of the Omicron variant of SARS-COV-2 would recede thanks to faster inoculations and plans to shut the unvaccinated out of most social activities. The French government is to lift the obligation to work from home at least three days a week from Feb. 2, French Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Thursday. It would also remove a requirement to wear a mask outdoors, and scrap attendance limits for sports arenas and cultural venues, Castex said. Infections with the Delta variant are “clearly receding,” while the
‘PRECAUTIONARY MEASURE’: Authorities asked anyone who bought a hamster after Dec. 22 to hand it over after hamsters at a shop tested positive for the Delta variant Hong Kong’s government yesterday faced outrage over its decision to cull hundreds of small animals after hamsters in a store tested positive for COVID-19. Like China, Hong Kong maintains a staunch “zero COVID” policy, stamping out the merest trace of the virus with contact tracing, mass testing, strict quarantines and prolonged social distancing rules. Its latest measures target hamsters and other small mammals — including chinchillas, rabbits and guinea pigs, which authorities on Tuesday said would be culled as a “precautionary measure.” The drastic move came after hamsters sold at the Little Boss pet shop tested positive for the Delta variant of
A huge designer property in Beijing and millions of dollars hidden in seafood boxes — a state television series on China’s anti-graft campaign is captivating viewers and lifting the lid on officials brought down on graft charges. A staggering number of Chinese Communist Party cadres have been caught up in Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) anti-corruption drive in the past few years, which critics say has also served as a way to remove political enemies since he came to power in 2013. The ongoing five-part series aired by state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) shows televised confessions by officials accused of corruption,