Malaysia’s Islamic authorities seize Bibles as “Allah” row deepens

January 3, 2014

(Two copies of the Bible in Malay (L) and the Iban dialect (R) are seen in this picture illustration taken in Kuala Lumpur January 2, 2014. The words on the books read, “Good News Bible” (L) and “New Holy Book” (R). REUTERS/Samsul Said)

Islamic authorities in Malaysia on Thursday seized 321 Bibles from a Christian group because they used the word Allah to refer to God, signalling growing intolerance that may inflame ethnic and religious tension in the Southeast Asian country.

The raid comes after a Malaysian court in October ruled that the Arabic word was exclusive to Muslims, most of whom are ethnic Malays, the largest ethnic group in the country alongside sizeable Christian, Hindu and Buddhist minorities.

That ruling overturned a court decision that allowed a Roman Catholic newspaper printed in Malay, the country’s national language, to use Allah.

The change has heightened concern that religious authorities, which issue rulings for Muslims and operate alongside civil courts, now have more legal muscle.

Analysts say new rulings that affect non-Muslims could be a way of deflecting anger against Prime Minister Najib Razak’s government from poor Malay Muslims over subsidy cuts likely to force up electricity, petrol and sugar prices.

On Thursday, the top Islamic authority in the richest and most populous state of Selangor seized the Malay-language Bibles from the Bible Society. The society said authority officials escorted two of its officials to a police station to make statements after which they were released on bail.

“We were told that we were under investigation for breaking a Selangor state law banning non-Muslims from using the word Allah,” said Bible Society of Malaysia Chairman Lee Min Choon.

Read the full story bBy Niluksi Koswanage here.

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So as a non-Muslim, I should not say “inshallah” (God willing) because Allah belongs only to the chosen few? And no more “God bless you” when someone sneezes if I am not a card-carrying member of a Christian church?

Why is it that so-called “religious groups” are so intolerant, so vicious, so willing to kill those of other beliefs? More wars in the name of “religion” – some actual shooting wars (Sunnis vs. Shiites) and others word wars (Conservatives vs. Liberals).

Posted by AZreb | Report as abusive