Malaysia says Catholic paper can print in Malay
The Herald Catholic Weekly would be allowed to print in Malay but cannot use "Allah" as a translation for "God, said official.
Malaysia has reversed a ban on a Catholic newspaper printing in the Malay language, a government official said on Thursday, following strong opposition from local churches and minority groups.
The Herald Catholic Weekly, which has a circulation of about 14,000, would be allowed to print in Malay but cannot use "Allah" as a translation for "God", said Che Din Yusoh, a senior official from the Internal Security Ministry, told Reuters by telephone.
The Muslim-majority government renewed the Herald's printing permit last month but said it could not publish its Malay language section for violating a 2007 ban on the use of the word "Allah", the Arabic word for God, in a non-Muslim context saying the word could cause erode the faith of Muslims.
The earlier ban on the Catholic paper had provoked an outcry from Malaysia's minority ethnic groups who say their rights to practise their own religions are being eroded.
"(The order was rescinded) because of their appeal. They have written a letter to ask us to reconsider the condition," said Che Din.
"But they still cannot use the word Allah until the court decides," he said.
Che Din was referring to a suit filed last year by the Herald against the government order banning it from using the word "Allah".
Published since 1980, the Herald is printed in English, Mandarin, Tamil and Malay.
The Malay edition is mainly read by tribes in the eastern states of Sabah and Sarawak on Borneo Island.
Almost 60 percent of Malaysia's 27 million people are Malay and Muslim. Christians -- including about 800,000 Catholics -- make up about 9.1 percent of the population.
Ethnic Chinese and Indians, who are mainly Christians, Buddhists and Hindus, have been upset by court rulings on conversions and other religious disputes as well as some demolition of Hindu temples.
Reuters Last Mod: 08 Ocak 2009, 15:43