Four Malaysian churches were recently attacked with firebombs, in the context of an on-going dispute about non-muslims using the word “Allah”.

[display_podcast] This podcast made available from Vatican Radio

Many Malay Muslims are protesting a recent High Court decision to overturn a ban on Catholics using “Allah” as a translation for God in the Malay-language edition of the main Catholic newspaper, the Herald.  In this podcast the editor of Herald, Fr Lawrence Andrew, explains that the case is about religious and cultural freedom for all of Malaysia’s minorities.


Controversy Continues Over Use of Word “Allah”

Several Protestant churches and one Catholic church were attacked last week in Kuala Lumpur.

The attacks occurred hours after the government announced it would reinstate a ban prohibiting non-Muslims from using the word “Allah.”

On Dec. 31, the Kuala Lumpur High Court overruled the ban, which was instated three years ago, affirming that it was unconstitutional and that the word “Allah” is not exclusive to Islam.

It granted the Catholic daily Herald, which was using the word as a translation for God in the Malay language section of the periodical, permission to print “Allah.”

However, the government announced Wednesday it would suspend the ban after days of protests on the part of Muslim groups who say that Christians and other minorities should not use “Allah” for “fear of confusing Muslims.”

An explosion damaged the administrative offices of Metro Tabernacle Church, a Protestant church in Kuala Lumpur, reported Molotov cocktails were thrown into several other churches, including the Catholic Church of the Assumption in Petaling Jaya.

No injuries were reported.

Father Lawrence Andrew, editor of the Catholic weekly Herald, told that in an attempt to not exacerbate the violence, the newspaper will not use the word Allah “until the judiciary issues the final ruling.”

Muslims constitute some 60% of the country’s 28 million people.

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, JAN. 8, 2010 (