Malaysia to restore 'Allah' ban for Christians

March 1, 2009 11:00

The Malaysian government will issue a new decree restoring a ban on Christian publications using the word "Allah" to refer to God, officials said Sunday. Home Affairs Minister Syed Hamid Albar said a previous Feb. 16 decree that allowed Christian publications to use the word as long as they specified the material was not for Muslims was a mistake, the national Bernama news agency reported. The about-turn came after Islamic groups slammed the government and warned that even conditional use of the word by Christians would anger Muslims, who make up the country's majority. A senior ministry official confirmed Syed Hamid's comments, saying there were "interpretation mistakes" in the Feb. 16 decree that led to the confusion. "'Allah' cannot be used for other religions except Islam because it might confuse Muslims. This is the ministry's stand and it hasn't changed," the official, who declined to be named citing protocol, told The Associated Press.

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