The Malaysian government has refused to release 10,000 Bibles confiscated for using the word "Allah" to refer to God, a banned translation in Christian texts in this Muslim-majority country, an official said Wednesday.
An official from the Home Ministry's publications unit said the government rejected pleas by church officials to allow the Bibles, imported from Indonesia, into the country. Christians say the Muslim Malay-dominated government is violating their right to practice their religion freely.
A Home Ministry official said the government told the importer last month to return the Indonesian-language Bibles, which are still with customs.
"Actually the publications, the Bibles are already banned," said the official, refusing to elaborate. He declined to be named because he is not authorized to make public statements.