Thursday, January 14, 2010

Malasyian High Court: Muslim Word for "God" Not Exclusive to Muslims

Lawyers' office in Malaysia 'Allah' case ransacked
AP, 14 January 2010, 08:05am

"KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: Burglars ransacked the offices of lawyers representing Christians fighting for the right to use the word 'Allah' to refer to God in this Muslim-majority country, officials said Thursday.
 
Lawyer S. Selvarajah said that staff arrived at work in the morning to find several locks and steel grill doors to enter the 2nd and 3rd floor offices cut, drawers ransacked and papers strewn on the floor.

He said his partner's laptop was missing. A mobile phone service provider's shop and tuition center on the first floor were not broken into, he said.

'Only our office has been targeted,' he said. 'It looks like it is an intimidation tactic ... We anticipated something will happen. We are definitely upset about this,' he told The Associated Press.

The incident adds to the tension building up since attacks since Friday night on nine churches, one of which was partially gutted.

The attacks followed a High Court ruling on Dec. 31, allowing a Catholic publication, the Herald, to use 'Allah' as a translation for God in its Bahasa Melayu language edition. The ruling, which overturned a government ban on the word, upset many Muslims in Malaysia.

Bahasa is the language of the Malay Muslims, who comprise about 60 percent of the country's 28 million population. It is also spoken by indigenous people of Sabah and Sarawak states on Borneo, who form more than 70 percent of Malaysia's 2.5 million Christians.

The government, which has appealed against the High Court ruling, says 'Allah' is exclusive to Islam and its use by Christians would mislead Muslims. The Christians say they have been using the word for decades, and it is the only word they have for God in their language.

The government, which is also Muslim-majority, has condemned the attacks on the churches and has vowed to uphold the freedom of religion guaranteed to minorities by the constitution.

The ban is over the use of 'Allah' only in published material and not in everyday verbal use by the country's various ethnic minorities, who form about 40 percent of the country's 28 million people. Ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities do not use the word 'Allah.'''

Read the complete article: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/rest-of-world/Lawyers-office-in-Malaysia-Allah-case-ransacked-/articleshow/5442698.cms

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