Malaysian church, newspaper sue gov't for banning use of word 'Allah'

A Malaysian church and a Christian weekly newspaper are suing the government for banning them from using the word "Allah," alleging that the prohibition is unconstitutional and against freedom of religion. The move follows the government's declaration that "Allah" - which means God in the Malay language - refers to the Muslim God and can only be used by Muslims. These are the first legal challenges against the mainly Muslim government's decision, and they come amid minority groups' increasing concerns that their rights are being trampled upon. The Herald, the newspaper of Malaysia's Catholic Church, filed suit in early December after it was warned repeatedly that its permit may be revoked if it refuses to drop the use of "Allah" in its Malay-language section, editor Rev. Lawrence Andrew said Friday.