Malaysia's Christians: Court upholds ruling to ban the use of Allah in Christian writing.

Christians in Malaysia Banned From Using the Word "Allah" in Published Material

Christians in Malaysia Banned From Using the Word "Allah" in Published Material

The Slatest
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June 24 2014 12:01 PM

Christians in Malaysia Banned From Using the Word "Allah" in Published Material

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Muslim protestors during a demonstration last year.

Photo by MOHD RASFAN/AFP/Getty Images

On Monday, Malaysia's highest court dismissed an appeal by Christians requesting the right to use the word "Allah" to refer to God in printed material. It's a longstanding legal tussle in the Muslim-majority country, and the court was not swayed by the Malaysian Catholic Church's argument that the name has been used for centuries in Christian literature, including Bibles, published in the Malay language. From the Christian Science Monitor:

The dispute began in 2007, when the Malaysian Ministry of Home Affairs threatened to shut down the Catholic Church's Herald newsletter for using the name. The government officials claimed that the use of "Allah" in a Christian publication may confuse the country's Muslims, and cause them to convert to Christianity.
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In 2010, three churches in the capital, Kuala Lumpur were attacked after an earlier court ruling in favor of Christians' right to use "Allah." The ban on the use of the word in Christian literature was reinstated in October 2013 and upheld by Malaysia’s top court today.

Earlier this year, authorities confiscated 321 Bibles from a Christian group because "Allah" was used in the books.

It's not clear from reports whether verbal uses of "Allah" by Christians are also forbidden.

Irene Chidinma Nwoye is a writer and former Slate intern in New York City. Follow her on Twitter.