03 January, 2009

Malaysia bans Malay-language edition of Catholic paper

Malaysia does not respect its Christian minority. A Catholic newspaper has been ordered by the government to cease its Malay language edition until courts resolve a ban on the paper’s use of the word “Allah”, its editor said today, Malaysiakini reports here.

How shameful, just days after the mufti of Malaysia says that Christians in Malaysia are respected !

AFP reported Thursday that in renewing the paper's license earlier this week, the Malaysian Home Ministry ordered the paper to completely cease publishing its Malay language edition until courts resolve the question of whether "Allah" is a term that can only be used by Muslims.

The newspaper Catholic Herald has been in a dispute for some time with government officials over the paper's use of the term "Allah" in its Malay language edition to refer to God. In November, 2008, the Herald filed suit asking the courts to resolve the issue.

Herald newspaper editor Father Lawrence Andrew said the move was part of a series of restrictions put in place by the conservative Muslim government when it renewed the paper's licence on Tuesday.

The Herald, circulated among the country's 850,000 Catholics, nearly lost its publishing licence last year for using the word "Allah" as a translation for "God," with authorities saying it should only be used by Muslims.

"The Constitution says Malay is the national language so why can't we use the national language in Malaysia?".

He called the ban "unacceptable" and said he intended to take action.

Andrew said the ban did not make any sense because a large proportion of Catholics in Malaysia are Bumiputera who mainly speak Malay.

The term "Bumiputera", or "Son of the soil", refers to ethnic Muslim Malays and the indigenous inhabitants in peninsular Malaysia and on Borneo island who are mostly Christian.

"More than 50 percent of our congregation are Bumiputera and two of our bishops are Bumiputera," he added.

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