Court Orders Non-Muslims: Don't Say 'Allah'
The word is specific to Islam, Malaysia newspaper can't use it
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 14, 2013 7:25 AM CDT
A Muslim girl joins her family to perform a prayer during the first day of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, at a mosque in Melaka, Malaysia, Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013.   (AP Photo)

(Newser) – A Catholic newspaper in Malaysia is no longer allowed to use the word "Allah" when referring to God, a court ruled today in a unanimous decision that overturns a 2009 ruling, with the court finding that the publisher's constitutional rights were not infringed. The government had argued the word is specific to Muslims, and the appeals court agreed that public disorder could result if the word is not exclusive to Islam, the BBC reports. "The usage of the word Allah is not an integral part of the faith in Christianity," said the chief judge. "The usage of the word will cause confusion in the community."

The issue has been a source of religious and ethnic tension as Malaysia struggles with issues related to minority rights, Reuters reports. Today's decision was greeted with cries of "Allahu Akbar" from around 200 gathered Muslims. But supporters of the newspaper say the word "Allah" predates Islam and Christians in Malaysia have used it for centuries; lawyers plan to appeal the decision to the country's highest court.