Sunday, January 17, 2010

Malaysia: Whose God?

Aljazeera: Religious tensions are rising in Malaysia following a High Court ruling which declared non-Muslims could use the Arabic word "Allah" when referring to God.

Christian churches have been attacked across the country and protests have been held in major mosques against the decision.

The issue has highlighted the tensions between minority ethnic and religious groups and the Malay Muslim majority.

The ruling came after a recent petition by Malaysia's Roman Catholic Church, whose main publication, the Herald, uses the word "Allah" in its Malay-language edition.

Rev Lawrence Andrew, editor of the Herald, has said there is no other appropriate term for God in Malay.

The word "Allah" has been used by Malay-speaking Christians for centuries, as well as by Christians in Arabic-speaking countries and in Indonesia.

On this edition of 101 East, we look at the current debate raging in Malaysia over the ownership of the word 'Allah.'

101 East presenter Fauziah Ibrahim is joined by Marina Mahathir, a social activist, Khalid Samad, a Malaysian opposition MP, and Yusri Mohamad of the Malaysian Islamic Youth Movement.

Muslim activists have claimed repeatedly that Christians in Malaysia refuse to drop using the word Allah because they want to confuse and convert Muslims, thereby posing a threat to national security. The claim is both groundless and insincere.

We need to make judgments based on solid facts, not groundless charges. In fact, one should ask, "Who is being converted?"

You may want to read the relevant statistics found at Krisis Praxis blog

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