A Malaysian appeals panel ruled yesterday that a local Catholic newspaper could not use "Allah" to refer to the Christian god, reports AFP in The Australian.
In a case that sparked attacks on places of worship three years ago, the publishers of the Herald, who had argued that a 2009 government ban on the use of Allah in its Malay-language edition was unconstitutional, said after the ruling they planned to appeal to the Federal Court.
'It is our judgment that there is no infringement of any of the constitutional rights,' said Apandi Ali, head of the three-judge panel. 'It is our common finding that the usage of the name "Allah" is not an integral part of the faith and practice of Christianity.'
The dispute erupted in early 2009 when the Home Ministry threatened to revoke the Herald's publishing permit for using the word, saying it could cause religious strife.
The Catholic Church sued, claiming violation of its constitutional rights. A court upheld the church's argument later that year and lifted the ban pending judicial review.
The ban's removal triggered a series of attacks on places of worship in early 2010, mostly churches, using Molotov cocktails, rocks and paint, and sparked fears of wider religious conflict in the multi-faith country.
Herald editor Father Lawrence Andrew said yesterday's ruling was flawed, noting that 'Allah' has been used extensively in Malay-language versions of the Bible for decades without trouble.
Photo: Muslims celebrate after the court upholds the ban
Malaysian court rules on use of 'Allah' (Australian)