A Catholic newspaper in Malaysia on Friday continued its fight to use the word “Allah” to signify God in its newspapers. The newspaper has appealed to the High Court to hear its case, Agence France Presse reports.
On Friday before an audience of two hundred, including Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur Murphy Pakiam, High Court Judge Lau Bee Lan decided that the arguments from both sides would be heard on Tuesday to determine if the case should proceed.
In January the Catholic weekly The Herald almost had its publishing license revoked because it used the word “Allah” in its Malay section. “Allah” is both the Malay and the Arabic word for God. Authorities warned the paper not to use the word again in the future.
The Malaysian Cabinet last year ruled that the word could be used only by Muslims. The internal security minister also issued a ban on its use in a non-Muslim context.
When the paper’s license was renewed in January, the publishers assumed they could use “Allah.” They are seeking to ensure their right to use the word even after the permit expires in October.
"We are asking the court to say the decision was wrong and quash it and declare that The Herald can use the word 'Allah' in its publication," the paper's lead counsel, Porres Royan, told reporters after an initial hearing at the Kuala Lumpur High Court last Friday.
"If we don't comply with the decision beyond October, the government can refuse to renew our publication permit based on the earlier order," said Annou Xavier, a lawyer for the paper.
Many Malaysians are concerned about what they see as a growing “Islamization” of the country.
The Herald circulates among the country’s 850,000 Catholics, with articles written in English, Chinese, Tamil, and Malay.