Malaysia has ruled that a Catholic newspaper cannot use the word “Allah.” The ruling contradicts earlier reports that the government had reversed the ban on the use of the word by non-Muslims, according to Reuters.
Father Lawrence Andrew, the editor of the Catholic weekly The Herald, had said last week that the government had renewed the publication’s publishing permit without restrictions, despite earlier rulings forbidding non-Muslims to use the word.
“Allah” is a Malay word for God used in Christian Bibles. The Herald’s Malay-language section also uses the word.
Abdullah Md Zin, a minister for religious affairs, said on Friday that the ban remained in effect.
"It was just the priest's interpretation that there was no restriction on the use of the word," Abdullah told Reuters. Such restrictions are increasing fears that non-Muslims’ religious liberty is being eroded in the country.
Malaysian Muslims make up about 60 percent of the nation’s population. Minority religions include Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity.