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Malaysia appeals ruling allowing non-Muslims to use 'Allah' as translation for 'God'

[JURIST] The Malaysian Home Ministry [official website, in Malay] on Monday appealed last week's ruling [JURIST report] by the High Court that non-Muslims can use the word "Allah" as a translation for the word "God." The case [JURIST report] was brought by the Herald, a weekly Catholic publication, challenging the Malaysian government's three-year ban on the practice. The newspaper argued that other options such as "Tuhan" or "Lord" were not appropriate [WSJ report] in the Malay-language editions of their publications, while Muslim groups have argued that use of the word "Allah" by the Catholic church was an attempt to confuse Muslims. The ruling triggered widespread protests throughout the country. The government is also seeking a stay of enforcement [Bernama report] of last week's ruling pending appeal.

Malaysia [JURIST news archive], a Muslim-majority country, has struggled in recent years to find a balance between modernization and the policies of a more traditional Islamic government that has encouraged the spread of Sharia courts. Approximately 60 percent of Malaysians are Muslim, while Buddhists, Christians, and Hindus comprise about 35 percent of the population, falling under the jurisdiction of civil courts. Both civil and Sharia courts have the authority to address cases involving religious issues.

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