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Catholic newspaper faces ban for writing “Allah”

A Catholic newspaper in Malaysia is facing a ban for using the word “Allah” to describe the Christian god.

By Thomas Bell, South East Asia Correspondent
Last Updated: 11:26AM GMT 17 Dec 2008

Unless the government changes its mind, the Herald Catholic Weekly has only two weeks left to run before its licence expires at the end of the year.

The deputy home minister Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh said: “Until December 31 we are not going to announce anything. There is plenty of time till then. Let them wait.”

Malaysia is a semi-authoritarian country with strict media laws which has been ruled by the same government since independence from Britain 51 years ago.

Almost 60 per cent of the population are ethnic Malay Muslims and the remainder are ethnic Chinese or Indians following a variety of religions. These large ethnic and religious minorities claim that the government is attempting to stir Malay Muslim sentiment in attempt to deflect its unpopularity and maintain power.

“The Catholic Herald’s ‘Allah’ is seen as a threat to national security,” said Father Lawrence Andrew, editor of the Herald.

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I urge those bumi Christians from East Malaysia to follow West Malaysians to make change in the next general election.

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