A Catholic weekly newspaper in Malaysia has been told to drop the use of the word "Allah" in its Malay language section if it wants to renew its publishing permit, a senior government official said Friday.
The Herald, the organ of Malaysia's Catholic Church, has translated the word God as "Allah" but it is erroneous because Allah refers to the Muslim God, said Che Din Yusoff, a senior official at the Internal Security Ministry's publications control unit.
"Christians cannot use the word Allah. It is only applicable to Muslims. Allah is only for the Muslim god. This is a design to confuse the Muslim people," Che Din told The Associated Press.
The weekly should instead, use the word "Tuhan" which is the general term for God, he said.
Religious issues are extremely sensitive in Malaysia, where about 60 percent of the 27 million people are Malay Muslims. Ethnic Chinese, who follow Christianity and Buddhism, account for 25 percent of the population. Indians, who are mostly Hindus with a sprinkling of Christians and Muslims, are around 10 percent.
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