Malaysia’s ban on Christians using the word “Allah” to refer to God is an abuse against free speech and must be scrapped, Amnesty International said after the country’s highest court upheld the controversial government ban.
“This ban violates the right to freedom of expression. The idea that non-Muslims could face prosecution for using a particular word is deeply disturbing,” said Amnesty International’s Malaysia researcher, Hazel Galang-Folli.
“This ban is not just repressive, it is also dangerous. It risks further inflaming religious tensions in Malaysia by denying its people the right to freedom of religion.”
The Malaysian government introduced the ban in 2007 after the word “Allah” was used in a Malay-language edition of the Catholic Church’s newspaper, the Herald.
The Church appealed against the ban, arguing that “Allah” had been used to refer to the Christian God for centuries in Malay-language Bibles and other non-Muslim literature.