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Malaysia's highest court takes up case over use of 'Allah' by Catholics

Published on Mar 5, 2014 10:12 AM

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia (AFP) - Hundreds of Muslims demonstrated on Wednesday outside Malaysia's highest court as it took up the Catholic Church's bid to be allowed to refer to God as "Allah" in a case that has increased tensions in the multi-ethnic nation.

The church is seeking to challenge a lower court's ruling last October that sides with the Muslim-majority country's government forbidding non-Muslims from using the Arabic word "Allah" in the local Malay language.

A seven-judge bench in Malaysia's Federal Court is expected to decide on Wednesday whether it will allow a full hearing of the case or whether the lower court's verdict stands.

Some 500 Muslims gathered outside the court complex in the administrative capital of Putrajaya as the case began, chanting "Allahu Akbar" or "God is great" and holding banners that read: "Want to use 'Allah', join Islam. Don't be ill-mannered."

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