UN call in Malaysia ‘Allah’ case

Malaysia – A United Nations Special Rapporteur has stepped into an ongoing legal row centred on a Catholic paper’s desire to use the word ‘Allah’ in its pages. The diocesan weekly Herald newspaper is currently barred from printing the name following the confirmation, by the Court of Appeal in Kuala Lumpur, of an earlier Ministry of Internal Affairs ruling. Now, the UN’s Frank La Rue, having examined the case has called on the Malaysian authorities to reverse the ruling on the grounds of freedom of religion and expression.

“The Ministry of Internal Affairs should immediately…and unconditionally withdraw the controversy on this issue,” he said.

The originaly judgement against the Herald was based on fears that the paper was using the name in order to convert Muslims, and justified on the basis that ‘Allah’ is not a term integral to Christianity. However, the UN High Commission for Human Rights has warned that the ban has serious potential implications for other religious freedoms across Malaysia.