Malaysian federal court dismisses Church review petition over 'Allah' ban

KUALA LUMPUR - The Malaysian federal court has rejected an application by the Catholic Church to reverse an earlier decision which denies it from using the word "Allah" in its publication.

A five-member panel unanimously decided against granting the review application on Wednesday, putting an end to a long battle over the use of the word in Catholic weekly The Herald.

The panel held that there has been no procedural unfairness in the earlier decision not to grant such a leave, and that the threshold for the review had not been met, Malaysian Insider reported.

In 2007, Malaysia banned Christian churches from using “Allah” in its publications. But the Catholic Church successfully sued in High Court to undo the ban.

The government appealed to reinstate the ban and won the appeal in 2013. The Church's attempts to get the ban reviewed failed on Wednesday. 

About 60 per cent of Malaysia’s 29 million population are Malay Muslims, 10 per cent are Christians and 20 per cent Buddhists. The rest practise Taoism, Hinduism, Sikhism or have no religion.

While the ban on using “Allah” is applicable only to The Herald, churches worry the government will now try to expand the ban. Most Christian Malaysians live in Sabah and Sarawak, and use Malay-language Bibles which refer to God as “Allah”.