Malaysia’s “Allah” row spills over into Facebook
More than 43,000 Malaysians have protested online over a court ruling allowing a Malay-language Catholic paper to use the word “Allah” for “God,” signaling growing Islamic anger in this mostly Muslim Southeast Asian country.
A group page on social networking site Facebook was drawing 1,500 new supporters an hour on Monday as last week’s court ruling split political parties and even families. Among those who signed up for the protest were Deputy Trade Minister Mukhriz Mahathir, the son of Malaysia’s longest serving prime minister, Mahathir Mohamed, while Mahathir’s daughter Marina called critics of the court decision “idiots” in her blog.
The government said on Monday it had filed an appeal against the court ruling amid concerns the issue could cause religious and racial conflict in this country of 28 million which has large Christian, Buddhist and Hindu minorities.
The Facebook page, named in Malay as “Protesting the use of the name Allah by non-Muslims”, said that the group was for Muslims “who realise that this is propaganda to confuse Muslims now and in future.”
The Catholic Church, which publishes a Malay version of its newspaper, The Herald, says that it uses the word “Allah” — the normal word for God in the Malay language — to meet the needs of Malay-speaking Catholics on the island of Borneo. “There should not be a cause for concern because some people have got the idea that we are out to convert (Muslims), but not at all, there is no question of this,” Father Lawrence Andrew, the newspaper’s editor, told Reuters.
The Facebook page in Malay is entitled: MENENTANG PENGGUNAAN NAMA ALLAH OLEH GOLONGAN BUKAN ISLAM