The Malaysian government has filed an appeal against the decision of the Supreme Court, which ruled that Christians can call God Allah in religious publications.
Thus, the Christian community in Malaysia is likely to be banned from calling Allah by his name. Christians believe the ban is unjustified because it violates their freedoms. The community insists that the word was borrowed from the Arabic language and that it translates as “God,” not as a proper name.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court’s March 10 ruling concerned a case involving a Christian woman, Jill Bill of Sarawak State: she was allowed to use the word “Allah” to describe her religious practices. The court also allowed the words “Kaaba” (the Islamic shrine in Mecca), “Baytallah” (“house of God”) and “Salat” (“prayer”) to be used for educational purposes in Christian publications.
Bill sued 13 years ago, when eight CDs of educational materials were confiscated from her. The reason was that the CDs had the word “Allah” on them. The Christian woman’s lawsuit coincided with another case involving the use of the word “Allah” by the Catholic publication The Herald. The newspaper was prohibited from using the word because it allegedly “could lead to public confusion.”
The official religion of Malaysia is Islam. According to some reports, it is practiced by about 60 percent of the population.